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Kiwi forensic software cracks US murder, wins global users

Kiwi forensic software cracks US murder, wins global users

Software developed by New Zealand research institute scientists is shaking up the field of forensics

ESR software extends the reach of crime scene DNA analysis

ESR software extends the reach of crime scene DNA analysis

Advanced forensic software developed by scientists at the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) has led to a murder conviction in a Brooklyn, New York, trial.

STRmix is revolutionising DNA interpretation, allowing the analysis of complex mixtures and DNA profiles recovered from minuscule amounts of DNA.

The software was developed by ESR scientists John Buckleton and Jo-Anne Bright, working with Duncan Taylor from Forensic Science South Australia.

The District Attorney of Kings County in Brooklyn, Eric Gonzalez, said the recent trial involved a 48-year-old man who killed his estranged wife in the backseat of her car, stabbing her multiple times.

The trial was the first in Brooklyn to use STRmix, which resolves mixed DNA profiles previously thought to be too complex to interpret.

Gonzalez said blood found in the victim’s car was a mixture of her DNA and the defendant’s, and the t-shirt the defendant was wearing contained a mixture of DNA from both of them.

“In this case, there was blood from both the victim and the defendant and the software assisted the analyst in isolating the defendant’s DNA,” Gonzalez said.

Thirty-one US labs now routinely use STRmix, including federal agencies such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the FBI and state and local agencies, including the Michigan State Police and Texas Department of Public Safety.

Furthermore, it has also been used to interpret DNA evidence in thousands of cases in Australia, England, Scotland, Ireland, Canada as well as in New Zealand.

ESR’s commercial and international general manager, Hamish Findlay, said STRmix is exciting interest among law enforcement agencies in an increasing number of countries.


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