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Science Thursday - January 31, 2013

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Posted: January 31, 2013   6:25 PM

A chemist’s arrest may lead to another crime lab audit in Massachusetts, an independent crime lab in Washington, D.C. seeks accreditation, and new research could lead to developments in forensic anthropology. Here’s this week’s round up of forensic news:
After the recent arrest of a chemist from a crime lab in Amherst, Massachusetts, District Attorney David Sullivan has asked that the Inspector General audit the lab to determine if any cases were compromised. At the conclusion of the investigation, Sullivan is pushing for the immediate public release of the results.
The troubled St. Paul crime lab will resume processing crime scene evidence and seek accreditation for fingerprint analysis. However, drug testing will be moved to an offsite facility at the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, and additional staff could be hired to handle cases that originally went to the St. Paul lab.
The Texas Forensic Science Commission heard updates on the arson case review and thought the process would restore public confidence in the fire investigation system in the state. Out of more than a thousand cases screened, a possible 6 to 8 cases could be sent to the Fire Marshall’s office for further review.
In an interview with Legal Times, the Washington, D.C. Forensic Sciences Chief, Max Houck, speaks about the lab’s process toward accreditation and hiring a complete staff since its grand opening four months ago.
Researchers in Spain are trying to improve the field of forensic anthropology by creating a computer and software system that can determine the sex and age of a corpse. Early studies show that the system, which is much faster than traditional tests, has a 95% reliability rate so far.

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