Improved technology in DNA testing continues to help authorities - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Improved technology in DNA testing continues to help authorities

By Michael Slother - email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - DNA testing was used to help Lubbock Police crack the nearly 17-year-old cold case. KCBD NewsChannel 11 asked a case director with the Innocence Project of Texas about the benefits of DNA testing and how it has evolved over the years.

Nick Vilbas with the Innocence Project says DNA testing has been used since the early 1990's and continues to grow with technology. "Now you have the capability to take much smaller samples and you can amplify them and you can replicate them and you can have a much larger sample to test and actually connect people to old cases," said Vilbas.

Blood, semen, and hair can all be tested, but Vilbas says they're not always left at a crime scene. "In only 10-20% of serious felony cases is biological evidence even collected," he continued. "There's nothing to test if there was no biological evidence."

Vilbas says in the past, evidence was often cleared out for old cases to make room for newer ones. That all changed with a state law. "In 2001 is when they enacted a biological evidence retention statute that requires counties to hold onto evidence." 

Lubbock Police say original evidence from 1994 helped solve Charlotte Ivey's case. With improving technology, Vilbas says it makes sense to hold on to evidence, to solve more cases like Ivey's.

"If you do collect it and you do maintain it in the proper way and keep it in a safe place, DNA evidence can come into play 20-30 years down the road from now," he said.

©2010 KCBD NewsChannel 11. All rights reserved.

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