Bias in Forensic Science

” I said something along the lines of, ‘This looks very promising, but for it to be used in court, we have to pass the Frye standard.’ I outlined the possible weaknesses, as I saw them; validation of the statistics, standards for matches, all the things that seemed pretty apparent to us. I thought I had given a nice talk about what would have to be done, when this woman from the Orange County crime lab stood up and said, ‘This kind of talk is dangerous. You shouldn’t be saying these kinds of things in public. Defense lawyers might find out about this and use it’ ” -Weinberg 192

I think that this attitude from forensic scientists says a lot. Firstly, I think that it shows the bias that at the time forensic scientists had towards defendants in general: they strove to prove them guilty. This statement from this woman shows that she and forensic scientists as a community were most likely to be on the side of the prosecution. This is even proven after Weinberg points out that the DNA testing was never done blind, and so forensic scientists were basically giving their own personal verdicts to the prosecution and courts.

This attitude is very alarming to me personally, because I consider myself a scientist also. It worries me to think that other scientists would inject their own opinions and biases into evidence and use science as a means to an end. For me, science and the discovery of new things should come from and be used as a way to make everyone’s lives easier and more efficient, not to meet one’s own personal agenda. It is also alarming to think that these labs and the courts were not monitoring the DNA testing, so that it would be blind. Weinberg even mentions that a scientist who studied the DNA of birds could’t even imagine doing her experiments unblinded. If birds are monitored so closely, why weren’t humans? Are they not more important and aren’t the implications more drastic? I feel as though this situation was almost a breach of ethics.

Bias in Forensic Science

Dissociative Identity Disorder

A forensic psychology fellow from the University of Cincinnati published an article stating that criminals using multiple personalities as insanity is rarely successful. Diagnosing DID is somewhat difficult due to its unprovable nature. In the novel, Fredianai was said to have acted differently with everyone in his life. Whether or not he was criminally insane or has DID is debatable, but it is evident he had a way of manipulating people depending who was with. People with DID switch between completely different personalities and essentially become a different person. Voice, attitudes and behavior drastically change. Frediani most likely did not have DID because even though he acted different towards his girlfriends vs colleagues, it was not too extreme. http://www.currentpsychiatry.com/home/article/dissociative-identity-disorder-no-excuse-for-criminal-activity/df220fd1fd6c4883df405908dd6b3ebc.html

Dissociative Identity Disorder

Shying Away from Capital Punishment

In Chapter 15, the idea that Frediani’s case may be a death penalty case arose. Death penalty cases are controversial, and in 2000 when this case was being tried, the law in California surrounding cases of capital punishment was different than it is today. But they sentence from this chapter that caught my attention was

“Bartick was confident that he had a better than evens chance of persuading the jury of Paul’s redeeming characteristics–in the event that he was found guilty of murder” (Weinberg, 236).

I didn’t realize death sentences were given a separate trial from the original murder trials. This explains why character references may play such a strong part in the sentences. California has not sentenced a prisoner to execution since 2006 so the laws have changed since this trial. However, in 2003 the New York Times wrote an article about jurors sparing the lives of prisoners in exchange for life without parole. The article claims one of the main contributors to this change was an increase in defense attorneys convincing jurors the lives of their clients are worth saving. This is definitely what Bartick was planning to do with Frediani if he was found guilty of murder.

http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/sentencing-news-and-developments-2003-2001

Shying Away from Capital Punishment

Evidence Planting

“Why would we want to plant evidence?”

“To close the case.” -(Weinberg 230)

While reading this chapter of Pointing From the Grave, Frediani’s interrogation by the police struck me.  When asked why they would have his DNA, Paul claimed that the police must have planted evidence against him.  Based off what I know about Paul and the case so far from the book, I do not think the officers involved with Frediani’s crimes framed him at all, but hearing about this type of tampering got me curious.  After a quick google search on evidence planting, I found this article  .  The article does a good job explaining how it is very much unclear how often evidence is planted by cops.  There are no agencies run by the government that look out for and track this type of injustice and it seems the only way people get caught is in the act itself.  The New York City example from 2008 is fascinating based off of the guilty officer’s quote.  He went on to testify that nothing will happen to the wrongly convicted, although he is being completely blind to the fact that these people he planted evidence on will have records of drug possession.  Besides trying to meet an arrest quota, like the New York cop, some officers plant evidence for personal and vengeful reasons.  The article mentions how a police sergeant planted meth in his ex wife’s car as an attempt to win custody of their kids.  How can these types of evidence planting be stopped?  Should there be more agencies that look into and monitor these falsehoods, or should policemen have no quotas and less pressure to meet a certain number of arrests?

 

Evidence Planting

Warrants

In chapter 15 of Pointing from the Grave Frediani is re arrested after ten years for the murder of Helena Greenwood. This is done when detective Laura Heilig obtains a warrant for his arrest. This made me curious about how warrants work. I learned that in addition to the standard search warrant that I was already familiar with, there is also a bench warrant and several different warrants which can be issued for finical reasons. I learned that “A bench warrant is initiated by and issued from the bench or court directing a law enforcement officer to bring a specified person before the court” (Dictionary definition). I found the bench warrant the most interesting because that can be issued in the middle of a trail and people can be taken into court which I found very interesting. Overall the link below was very helpful in learning more about warrants, check it out.

Legal Dictionary Definition: Warrant

Warrants

It’s In His Genes

“Paul Frediani’s parents believed their son when he said he was innocent. To do otherwise would be to question their role as parents, the values they has instilled in their eldest son, the genes they had passed on to him.”
-Weinberg, 234

How much of blame should Frediani’s parents be assigned for his situation? Personally, I feel none. There was no distinct lack of nurture or extreme abuse of Frediani as a child that should have caused this situation.

The genes, however, may have some effect on Fredinani’s criminal record. Earlier in the semester we spoke about a gene that makes people more likely to be violent or have extreme emotional reactions to common occurrences. Based on the accounts from his ex-lovers, in which Frediani was painted as an emotional wreck and a hazard to the women’s safety, he could be exposed to the same genetic mutation. Is it possible that Frediani is just a victim of his genes?

 

I don’t believe so, because in the same video that explained the violent gene we saw an innocent, calm, and gentle family where each member had the gene. The family was in control of their own actions and not harming anyone.

Therefore, if anyone is to blame, it is not his parents, his upbringing, or his genes: it is just him.

It’s In His Genes

Kuwait DNA Database

“The UK has always been at the forefront of forensic DNA research, he states quietly , “and we still are” (Chapter 14 ,page 220)

Chapter 14 of Pointing from the Grave mentions how the United Kingdom has always been leading in DNA research and holds a database for a select number of UK individuals. The database is very helpful for solving crimes and the database will continue to grow. I researched about DNA databases and find out that Kuwait is creating a mandatory DNA database. A huge islamic led suicide bombing hit Kuwait city a year ago and government officials believe that a DNA database will make it easier for arrests. It will only deb used for criminal security cases.  All Kuwaiti citizens and visitors will be asked to submit their DNA. “Any person who refuses to submit to the DNA tests and data mining operation will be subject to $33,000 in fines and up to one year in prison. Any person who provides a fake sample will face up to seven years.”

kuwait dna

Works Cited: Website

Kuwait DNA Database

Cold Cases

When not enough evidence is presented in a case and no one is found guilty, it becomes a cold case. Cold cases were especially common when not enough technology existed for things like DNA testing, or simply keeping evidence form being tampered with. A few articles in the Huntington Post told of cold cases that were finally solved after as long as twenty years. New evidence had been found and DNA testing gave the answers. Suspects who had not enough proof to convict them were finally put behind bars. As seen with Helena’s case, the police do all they can to put an end to a case and provide closure. More cold cases should be looked into with the new technology.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/cold-case-solved/

Cold Cases

Steven Avery

 

“‘We already knew that there had to be innocent people in jail and that their innocence could be proved through DNA,’ says Scheck [the director of the Innocence Project].” – Weinberg, p198

In chapter 13 of Pointing from the Grave, Weinberg discusses The Innocence Project, an organization founded for the purpose of exonerating those who had been wrongfully convicted of crimes. One of the most famous cases the Innocence Project had worked on was that of Steven Avery, the subject of Netflix’s hit documentary Making a Murderer. According to the Innocence Project’s website, in July 1985, a woman named Penny Beernsten was brutally raped in a wooded area while she was out for a jog. In court, Beernsten gave an eyewitness testimony and named Avery as her attacker. Despite 16 alibi witnesses and a recipe which put Avery over 45 miles away from the attack an hour after it happened, Avery was convicted on the testimony alone. He served 18 years in prison before DNA evidence exonerated him and helped to catch the real attacker, a man named Gregory Allen.

As Scheck states in this chapter, I believe the Innocence Project has the capability to prove the innocence of dozens of convicted people, if their cases and DNA evidence could be reopened.

 

Steven Avery

Planting to Wrap Up

“”Why would we want to plant evidence?, ‘to close the case””(Weinberg, 230)

In chapter 15 of Pointing from beyond the grave, Frediani is finally arrested after a decade after the murder of Helena Greenwood. He was brought into the station and was as expected interviewed. One of the parts that caught my eye was the remark that maybe DNA evidence was planted by the police to try to wrap up a grueling case. Is there any instance of where police plant evidence to get a case closed or for other reasons. According to multiple sources like Atlas Obscura, Police have been known to plant things such as drugs, or guns to get names, info, and so on. This really makes me think that maybe something was planted in this case along the way

Planting to Wrap Up

DNA and Innocence

“For every case in which the criminal justice systems of the world has been proven  – primarily through the agency of DNA – to be too eager to convict the innocent, there are multiple examples of guilty people slipping through their nets and escaping punishment” -Weinberg, pg 201

It has been a great topic of controversy whether people should go to jail if their fingerprint is found in the place where the murder happened or if the person that was murdered had the DNA of someone else. However, the Innocent project tries to calm down convictions so that people that could be innocent do not go to jail. In my opinion, someone who goes to jail only in the basis of DNA should not be found guilty. So the Innocent project makes a lot of sense, because it is not fair for people to convicted in a crime with only one compromising evidence. Therefore, it is important that they do not act with eagerness.

DNA and Innocence

The Innocence Project

“The Innocence Project is a national litigation and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted individuals through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice.” (The Innocence Project Mission Statement)

In Chapter 13, Weinberg talks about the innocence project, whose purpose is to exonerate falsely convicted people of crimes they did not commit. But just how effective and successful is the innocence project? As of March 17th, 2016 there have been 337 DNA exonerations led by the innocence project. However, almost half of those cases become cold cases again, after exoneration, because only 166 of the 337 cases have successfully found the correct perpetrators; the rest of the cases let the innocent person free but have yet to find the true guilty party. The innocence project says that the leading causes of wrongful conviction were: eyewitness misidentification, unvalidated or improper forensic science, false confessions and incriminating statements, and informants.

Other interesting facts about the cases the innocence project takes on were…

• The first DNA exoneration took place in 1989. Exonerations have been won in 37 states; since 2000, there have been 263 exonerations.

• 20 of the 337 people exonerated through DNA served time on death row. Another 16 were charged with capital crimes but not sentenced to death.

• The average length of time served by exonerees is 14 years. The total number of years served is approximately 4,606.

• The average age of exonerees at the time of their wrongful convictions was 26.5.

– See more at: http://www.innocenceproject.org/free-innocent/improve-the-law/fact-sheets/dna-exonerations-nationwide#sthash.GMTgnMoV.dpuf

The Innocence Project

Freudian’s eye surgery

“‘How long after you had surgery on April, 5, 1984, was it before you drove a motor car at night?’

‘It was quite a while. The vision at night was really bad…bright headlights would be excruciatingly painful and I avoided that.’

-Weinberg, 168

When Mr. Frediani was question by Murray, he was asked about the eye surgery he had received. The days following his surgery, Frediani admitted to driving during the daytime with sun glasses on, however, denied driving at night because of how painful and difficult it would’ve been. I looked online and a lot of different sources said to avoid driving at night, even to cover eyes during sleep so to protect eyes from light. I know from personal experience, the last thing you want after an eye surgery is to have a light shown into your eye, especially a headlight. The doctor will usually give patients very dark colored sunglasses to protect the eyes during recovery. I want to know why this didn’t play a bigger role in Frediani’s case. To me, that seems reliable enough to remove Frediani from the scene of the crime. This also made me wonder about how many people are proven innocent in court due to a health reason or recent surgery.

Freudian’s eye surgery

A Scientific Anthology: Women in Science

Introduction

There have been many op-ed pieces and articles published about women in science chronicling their ups, downs and everything in between.

This anthology profiles 20 women in various fields of science, from molecular biology to physics, astronomy to zoology. They come from various socioeconomic, ethnic and geographical backgrounds. Some are well known, others you may just hear of for the first time. Some are still alive, while others are now circulating as a part of our universe. Some may have found their career path easier than others. Some may have had additional labels threaten to weigh them down.

Something you’ll find they all have in common is a curiosity and a passion – about their field and their work – and a desire to make the world a better place.

Continue reading “A Scientific Anthology: Women in Science”

A Scientific Anthology: Women in Science

DNA or Not

In this chapter there were ideas contemplating whether or not DNA should be admissible in court. This reasoning is based off the notion that prosecution teams and juries filled with average citizens are likely to know minimal information when it comes to DNA and DNA testing. I do not think it is fair that the prosecution and jury are expected to blindly accept information that they know close to nothing about, I think that this can lead to many false convictions and acquisitions and that is not fair to an innocent defendant. Yes it does help with many convictions but I think that the risk here outweighs the reward, there is always a chance of false conviction, do you think an innocent mans life is worth the continuation of DNA use in court

DNA or Not

Less Sentence Because of Plea or No Plea Taken

In this chapter Frediani changed his plea from not guilty to no contest. Do you think that he had done this because he feels guilty or for the reason that he would simply like a less severe punishment. This makes me think of the large amount of deals the prosecution can make with the defense, all around similar reason. This also makes me think is it smart to release a convicted felon three years earlier because of a plea bargain? In some cases of misdemeanors and petty crimes yes that is agreeable but for felons like frediani, do you think it is the best option to release someone convicted of rape and assault because he “pleaded guilty”.

Less Sentence Because of Plea or No Plea Taken

O.J. Simpson: Accurately Portrayed?

“Once the trial started, the world, the world watched transfixed as week after week, month after month, some eminent DNA expert or another sat on the witness stand, exploring the intimate details of a tiny molecule in a microscope in microscopic detail.”- Weinberg, page 202

Chapter 13 looks into the trial of O.J. Simpson. This case was momentous for many reasons: O.J.’s fame, the fortune he used to defend himself, and the seemingly incriminating DNA evidence all played a part in an event that grew from a simple court case into a nationwide media extravaganza. The media played a large part in people’s perceptions of O.J., and made it tough for the jury and the public to stay unbiased while the trial proceeded. Recently, this trial has come back into the public scene with the tv series The People V. O.J. Simpson. Does this show accurately portray the case of O.J., or is the story of the case dramatized in order to make it seem more interesting than it actually is? In film, one often has to consolidate facts and events in order to make things fit into a certain time-slot. This may have impacted how true to the original the characters and events in the show were. Either way, people should keep in mind that the show is fiction and not completely factual when they are watching, or else they may get the wrong idea about the trial

O.J. Simpson: Accurately Portrayed?

Using DNA

“DNA evidence must always be looked at in the context of the evidence that has to be analyzed. It is an aid, not a substitute for police work.” -Weinberg, pg. 221

I think this quote from the British forensic scientist answers a lot of questions we’ve discussed in class, most importantly whether or not it was just to convict someone on DNA evidence alone. Even though it can point to a single person out of thousands or millions, DNA is still just a type of evidence. It can certainly help build a strong case against a suspect, but it’s important that those working in the justice system acknowledge that DNA is only a piece.
Say DNA is found at the scene of a crime, and it’s a perfect match for a prime suspect. A DNA match shouldn’t automatically call for a conviction; if the suspect has a solid alibi, they shouldn’t be convicted for that crime, despite what the DNA says.

Using DNA

OJ Simpson vs. DNA

“Pre-O. J., few people had ever heard of DNA; the trial changed all that; to this day, in the US at least, its three initials are inextricably linked to Simpson’s two.”- (Weinberg 202)

Few cases have ever garnered so much media attention at once. However, the OJ Simpson case was one of those few cases that become a media sensation. DNA was a piece of evidence rarely used in court before however, due to the magnitude of the case it was essential. It appeared in the text that the DNA used in court was tampered with and switched leading to believe that Mr. Simpson did not commit the crime. Recently I saw the ESPN 30 for 30 on the Duke lacrosse scandal. The documentary pointed out the prosecution running his own DNA test and thus tampering with the results leading to believe that the lacrosse players committed the crime. Eventually all players were found innocent and prosecutor was disbarred. Both these high profile cases illustrate the issues with DNA testing. Once brought up in court it is very hard to argue DNA tests even if in the end they are wrong. This brings up the issue of the negatives of DNA testing and how science can easily be manipulated.

OJ Simpson vs. DNA

STRs

“I was 99 percent sure it was him,” says Laura Helig…But I had heard about this new technology, STRs…I knew they could give us results on really tiny samples (Weinberg 216).

This new form of analyzing DNA emerged in 1999 and was exactly what Helig needed to catch Helena Greenwood’s killer. Short Tandem Repeats could not only be used on small amounts of DNA but could also give specificity. This article goes into detail about STR testing. Essentially the labs like SERI that worked on Fredini’s DNA analyzed the 6-loci tandem repeats and they matched the DNA found under Helena’s fingernails, which had been stored in evidence since the attack, almost a decade earlier. STR analysis was able to use the small amount of very old DNA found under Helena’s fingernails and match it to Frediani’s DNA which was kept in a DOJ freezer because he was a sex offender. This was the beginning of databases like CODIS that emerged in 1998 to catch criminals even easier then with just STR.

STRs

What Evidence We Actually See

“‘I am a psychologist,’ Thompson says. ‘My research is on how people make judgements. And if I know one thing it is: what you expect to see and want to see influences what you do see, when you are looking at something ambiguous'” – Weinberg, p194

I thought this quote was extremely well put and really captures the essence of what I was thinking while reading about how the forensic scientists know exactly which sample comes from the victim, and which sample comes from the suspect. It is clear that if the forensic scientists know the information about the case it would be very hard for them to keep their biased opinion from playing a role in the results of their work. As I was reading this section of the chapter I was questioning why forensic scientists do not go into a case blind, similar to how a scientist who tests finch paternity goes into the experiment blind. I understand that the forensic scientists are considered part of the prosecution team, but I believe that in some cases scientist’s feelings and opinions would be very hard to keep separate from the case, and therefore must play a role in the results. Thompson referenced cases where questionable DNA results came out as matches, and I wondered to myself whether these were cases in which the scientists knowledge of the case impacted the results. I believe that scientists should have to look at the DNA and samples blind, without any knowledge of who the suspect or victim is, or any details about the case.

What Evidence We Actually See

Forensic Bias

In the book on page 193, Weinberg asks the question if it creates bias that the forensic scientists knew which samples came from the suspect and which came from the victim? This got me to thinking about why would  this be allowed? And then how could this effect the results without the scientists even meaning it to? I found an article that had a study done on forensic experts and what could be a factor in their ultimate conclusion. http://www.psmag.com/politics-and-law/biased-forensics-experts-82712

The article talked about how bias, time pressure and expectations could all be a factor. Many of the experts tended to focus on the information that was given them and when examining the bodies they looked for details that would support what they already knew. This is human nature to assume what we already know is correct. It is hard to figure out what we don’t know yet. The study also says that there is a “movement underway” that will hopefully establish some guidelines to erase a lot of the bias that is present in many of these cases.

This connects back to the question in the book because it does create bias that the forensic scientists knew which samples came from which person. They would then be looking for evidence to confirm what they thought was correct instead of looking for new answers.

Forensic Bias

Double personality

Eileen remembers his ugly temper, and also his emotional romantic side. “He has two personalities,” she said, “Just like a Jekyll and Hyde. He even looked different when he was in a rage, his nostrils flaring, these wild eyes, this rage…”- Weinberg, page 185

This description of his other girlfriend makes it seem like he had a double personality. Like even his eyes changed and it looked like he was a different person. Normally, when people get angry they say stuff that they don’t mean. However, this seems to be someone who could have a double personality. If not, he may have anger management issues that he should be treated for. After everything he went through in the trial and having abused of his girlfriends by treating the horribly, he should try to get treatment for it. Maybe the description for double personality may be too much, but controlling his anger could be his problem.

Double personality

Is what you see what you get?

“In the forensic world, the people who are doing the interpretation are, in most cases, considered part of the prosecution team; they meet with the detectives, they know the particulars of the case, often they have strong expectations of what they are going to see…’I am a psychologist,’ Thompson says. ‘My research [says]…what you expect to see and want to see influences what you do see…” -Weinberg, 194

Since forensic scientists are working with the organic evidence and DNA of a case, they should be objective members of the prosecution team. They work directly with the only true links to a crime scene and should be examining the evidence without a personal agenda. However, since they are given all of the information of the case, and are usually hired by the defense or prosecutor to prove that particular side’s case, it becomes difficult to not become personally invested in the research.

William Thompson points out that what a person expects and wants to see will affect how they see what is in front of them. So if a scientist, believing that the accused is guilty, sees an ambiguous analysis or interpretation of evidence, it is possible that they will see a link to the crime. Weinberg gives the example of the scientist who found DNA that could only possibly match the suspect, but insisted that it matched because of there circumstances in which the investigators found the evidence.

This problematic form of scientific analysis poisons the justice system, and gives objective, true evidence the potential to be unreliable.

Is what you see what you get?

Investment Blinds Reality

After reading Chapter 14 of Pointing from the Grave, the Laura Heilig was introduced as she described how she would go through the files of sexual assault cases. One thing that was very interesting was the fact that she stated she was always very invested in the cases and knew every detail down to eye color or the names of their brothers and sisters. I found this very interesting because it brings up the question of when knowing too much information is going too far. Essentially, as a part of Laura’s job, it is important to know the details of the case; however, there is a point when someone can become too invested. According to principles of cognitive psychology, when this investment occurs at an extensive level, it is typical that the real facts or reality can be blinded – people ignore the obvious due to a concept called willful blindness. Essentially, people become so invested in an idea that they do not want to believe something that they think is wrong or could not be an option. Below is a link with a TED talk of the ideas laid out by principles of psychology. So after watching this, is it possible that Laura could be blinded by the facts if she gets too involved or did that aid in her discovery of Helena’s assailant? In the end of the chapter it is revealed that her assailant was matched, however, this is still an issue that is seen in many court cases that was interesting to see throughout this book. Thus, when does becoming invested hit the point of going too far?

https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/08/27/willful-blindness-margaret-heffernan/

Investment Blinds Reality

A New Life?

Frediani’s post-jail life is highlighted in Chapter 12. It seems as though he is off to a typical, clean life in the beginning of the chapter. He starts at lower, entry-level jobs post-bail but soon manages to make it into the white-collar world. I wonder why Frediani was able to succeed so well after three years in prison, when so many struggle with issues such as homelessness, unemployment, and drug/substance abuse. What mentality did Frediani have that made him succeed? How was he able to pursue an MBA? It makes you think that maybe he was innocent because he was so willing to make a 360 right out of jail. However, when discussions of his anger started to arise later in the chapter, it confirmed (in my mind) that Frediani must have been guilty on some account. His temperament issues might be the switch that makes him commit crimes.

A New Life?

Jekyll and Hyde: Multiple Personalities

This would last for days; periods of silence and coldness, followed by accusations and recriminations. Eileen remembers his ugly temper, and also his emotional, romantic side. “He has two personalities,” she said, “just like a Jekyll and Hyde. He even looked different when he was in a rage, his nostrils flaring, these wild eyes this rage…” (Weinberg 185)

Jekyll and Hyde Syndrome, Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD), Schizophrenia, or even alcoholism can trigger somebody into believing that he or she is a different person at certain points in their day, week, month, or years. The most severe of these disorders is multiple personality disorder, in which a person displays two or more distinct identities, they themselves become a completely different person at certain points; not to be confused with schizophrenia where someone has difficulty distinguishing between what is real and what is imaginary. However, in the way that MPD causes complete changes in someones personality, schizophrenia is often thought of as having a “split mind” or multiple minds in your head, instead of becoming a different person, it is like you have many people or “voices” talking to each other. Possibly the more terrifying is schizophrenia because, unlike MPD, you can lose touch with reality by not knowing what part of those “voices” in your head are telling the truth, so to speak. Additionally, MPD is often associated with “amnesia”, or not remembering an MPD episode, while still unnerving, the person suffering from MPD may not even realize they’ve had an episode.

http://www.humanillnesses.com/original/Men-Os/Multiple-Personality-Disorder-Dissociative-Identity-Disorder.html

Jekyll and Hyde: Multiple Personalities

The bigger picture behind innocence

“By the beginning of April 2002, that number stood at 104—104 people who had spent an average of a decade in prison for a crime they did not commit” (Weinberg 201).

The Innocence Project is potentially one of the most admiral entities in the entire criminal justice system because of its reformatory nature. We see prisons as a way of putting away society’s worst people, but we often do not think that completely innocent individuals can end up there. Moreover, the commonality in hearing a convict saying “Oh, well I didn’t do it” may blind us from the reality and actuality of those who are in fact wrongfully accused and convicted. I cannot imagine what it would be like to be convicted of a crime that I so desperately knew I did not commit.

Justice should always be served, but we must realize that our legal system is very vulnerable to arbitrary tendencies that can discriminate and fault our society. This is not to say that the criminal justice system is not aimed at pledging and giving justice for all, but it is far from a perfect system. The Innocence Project is just one part of a greater reform movement for criminal justice that is duly needed in our modern era. Our overall prison population is too high; too many people are discriminated against from bottom to the top, arrest to conviction. Stigmatization of criminal history bars too many people from obtaining jobs, housing, educations, and supportive families. The 21st century is a new dawn of redefining our freedoms and liberties; we must redraw the line of how we define crime and more importantly how we treat it, for our reactions are our greatest predictors of results.

 

The bigger picture behind innocence

Fredriani, the Real Victim?

In chapter 12, we get a closer look at Fredriani’s personal life after the trial. He manages to find a decent paying job as a truck driver before working his way into corporate society again, reconcile with his family through Andrea, and find love again with Eileen. Despite the sting of fortunate events, ruin continues to follow Fredriani’s every step as he loses both of his new families. I feel the most important factor to consider is Fredriani’s tendency to repeat destructive habits in his relationships; it seems that his wild side always pops out after a certain length of time with a new flame. Andrea’s comments about his physical abuse and Eileen’s concerning his “two personalities” may hint towards a fractured psyche that the man may just be unable to control. Regardless of whether Fredriani killed Greenwood or not, the man is in clear need of psychological help, which would address his emotional stability and pathological drive to extremely passionate relationships.

Fredriani, the Real Victim?

Insanity

“Scared to death of him” – Weinberg (185)

Frediani has a tendency to get into relationships that end in catastrophe. My father’s interpretation of insanity is doing the exact same thing over and over and expecting different results. Frediani’s relationships usually end poorly, yet Frediani never seems to take a different approach. In my father’s eyes, Frediani would be insane.

Frediani’s relationships usually run smoothly at the beginning; he falls for this girl that he can envision himself marrying, then Frediani’s temper gets the best of him and the relationships go south. If you think about it, Frediani probably has no idea why this is happening. Just based off of the fact that all of his relationships go the same way, its fair to say that he is oblivious that he is the problem. If he has made girls feel “scared to death” on multiple occasions, how has he not realized he might be the problem?

Maybe because Frediani is insane. We all understand Frediani has some screws loose upstairs, but his insanity may be overlooked. No one in the right frame of mind would continue to get into questionable relationships that end in disaster without asking the question “am I the problem?” Frediani clearly isn’t in the right fram of mind, but its baffling that he never considers himself the issue.

Insanity

The Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Syndrome

“He is just like Jekyll and Hyde. He looked different when he was in rage, his nostrils flaring, these wild eyes, this rage…”-Weinberg (p. 185)

After reading Eileen’s comment of what she thought of her boyfriend’s attitude, I got interested in searching up some information on psychopathology. Science daily defines psychopathology as a term which refers to either the study of mental illness or mental distress or the manifestation of behaviors and experiences which may be indicative of mental illness or psychological impairment. David Frediani’s attitude and behavior would seem to be on polar ends. During an extended amount of time David would be display signs of happiness in his environment. He would be kind to Eileen’s daughter, show up to work, provide child support for his own children as well. However, David began showing signs of aggression, anger and rage when he comes into contact with a stimulus or trigger. An example that can cause this behavioral change could be if Andrea did not want her children to interact with their father David without reason.

The connection of David Frediani’s behavior and psychopathology is that there could be an underlying mental disorder. There could be a part where his brain could have structural malfunctions. An area that could be the cause within the brain is called the paralimbic system. Scientific American Mind, a media outlet, explains that the paralimbic system “includes several interconnected brain regions that register feelings and other sensations and assign emotional value to experiences. These brain regions also handle decision making, high-level reasoning, and impulse control.” Malfunctions within David Frediani’s paralimbic system could have caused him to not have control of his impulses and desires. Filled with anger and rage, David could be at a higher predisposition to behave violently against other people and possibly hurt them. Trying to extrapolate Eileen’s quote and David’s past it could very well be possible that David could have been involved in the murder of Helena Greenwood as well. Just think about it, David could have been filled with anger and decided to talk to Helena Greenwood to have her not testify in court. She would have not agreed and could have set David off to physically abuse her and eventually kill Helena.

 

Cool video on psychopaths:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wv91IVpLyBk

Resources:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/terms/psychopathology.htm

http://cicn.vanderbilt.edu/images/news/psycho.pdf

https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/psychopathy

http://www.cassiopaea.com/cassiopaea/psychopath.htm

 

The Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Syndrome

Jail, and then what?

Today in class we discussed Frediani’s behavior and life after he was released from prison, and how he completely turned around his life and got back on a productive and successful track. Now granted, this was over 20 years ago, so how hard would it be for someone like Frediani in 2016 get a job and follow a different road after a prison stint? All companies do some sort of background check on their employees, so getting a job would surely be a tough thing to do. Furthermore, imagine what kid of changes to society someone misses by spending a decade in prison? Smartphones, laptops, instagram, and so many other advancements are just some of the examples that former-prison inmates would need to adjust to once out of prison. Frediani only did a few years in prison and was a well-rounded citizen before his stint, so his release probably motivated him to get back the life he had. But for people who come from low-income backgrounds, and don’t have much experience in the workplace, do you think they are as lucky?

http://interactive.aljazeera.com/aje/shorts/life-after-prison/

Here’s a quick video about a man who has spent over 30  years in prison– and he talks about his return to society.

Jail, and then what?

Explanation of PCR and Some Info about GMO’s

In Chapter 10, Weinberg writes about the discovery of the polymerase chain reaction, or the process used to duplicate DNA. While we talked a lot about it in class, I thought that some people still did not completely understand the process (myself included), so here is a post on Reddit which explains it well. In addition to that Reddit post, while I was researching I found many Q&A Reddit threads with scientists who were involved in GMO study. I felt that these threads were relevant to our discussion, since we talked about GMO’s in class earlier in the semester. The questions that the scientists are asked are very interesting and give a lot of insight into how these GMO companies function and understand their work. Here they are:

Monsato AMA

“Ask Me Anything About Transgenic (GMO) Crops!”

Explanation of PCR and Some Info about GMO’s

Lie to Me

The question of whether Andrea’s alibi is valid or a way to cover Frediani tracks has been a discussion within the book along with in our class. She was his sole supporter in the case and was pregnant by him with twins. We made a speculation that she wouldn’t want him going to jail because it would leave her by herself to raise them. The question than became if she was willing to lie in courts for him, committing a felony herself which would also put her in jail if she was found to be guilty of perjury.

The action of being about to tell if someones lying reminded me of a show I use to watch called “Lie to Me”. I loved this show because it was formulated off of real research showing commonalities people have when they are lying. The main character is the worlds leading deception expert who studies peoples faces and movements allowing him to tell when when a person is lying. He is able to solve murder, assault, missing persons cases etc. just by studying a witness or suspects facial expressions.

We all get have our own intuition of when we believe someone is lying. Either by what they are saying or by the way someone is acting. However, somethings that I remember from the show include the way a person reports a story. When the main character, Cal, was questioning people about what happened at a crime scene or in general case he would ask them to tell the story backwards. Interestingly enough, when people plan to tell a fabricated story, they only are able to tell it in the forward direction not backwards. Stumbling to put the pieces together backwards was a big indicator a fabricated stories. Another thing people tend to do when lying is the repeat the question in the answer and never use contractions. For example, when your parents ask you if you were out with the bad kids in school, a child replying “No I was not out with the bad kids from school”. For some reason, people believe that using more words when replying makes it seem like their statements are more valid. However, in reality, its a trigger to notice if someones trying to be deceiving.

Other than what we say, we also tend to show emotions in our face which the show called, micro expressions. Someone not keen these expressions wouldn’t be able to pick up on it because they are unconsciously expressed by the person. A person does not have to be lying in order to expresses these. We express emotions like surprise, sadness, happiness etc. even if we are not explicitly trying to.  Its like your co-worker telling you that he received the promotion that you were equally working towards. You express that you’re happy for them but your face might show contempt without you even realizing.

micro_expressions_tim_roth1

Image Source

 

 

Lie to Me

The Innocence Project

After reading this chapter I was really interested to learn more about the Innocence Project, so I looked to their website. Founded in 1992 at the Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University by Barry Schneck and Peter Neufeld, the Innocence Project looks to assist those who have been wrongfully convicted. As of 2016, more than 300 people in the US have been exonerated as a result of DNA testing, a portion of these individuals even serving time on death row. The average imprisonment time for these innocent individuals was 14 years. Clearly, this is not fair to them or their families. The overall goal of the project is to free the innocent who still remain in jail. Those who work for the project include attorneys and Cardozo students, as mentioned in Pointing From the Grave. Their studies show that more times than not, those who have been wrongfully convicted arise from systematic defects during the DNA testing process. The website also shows some current cases that the project is dealing with. For example, there is one man, Joseph Buffey, who was convicted in 2002 and was imprisoned as a result of assumed rape and robbery. Since then, Buffey has been freed from prison and the real perpetrator has been found, but that does not make up for the 13 years he spent behind bars. The website informs that he was convicted wrongfully on account of eyewitness misidentification. I think that the Innocence Project is a great cause for the innocent and their families, and I am curious to see whether or not it will somehow apply to Frediani in the future.

The Innocence Project

What Can We Use PCR For?

Chapter 11 of Pointing From the Grave discusses the development of PCR, and how it was extremely helpful in coming up with new ways to use DNA. In this chapter Weinberg quotes Kary Mullis and says,

“I can’t keep up with the things people are doing with PCR” and “PCR is the word processor of biochemistry” (Weinberg quoting Kary Mullis pg. 175).

These quotes made me begin questioning the different uses for PCR. I found an article that discusses how PCR can be used to diagnose genetic disease, conduct genetic fingerprinting, detect infections in the environment, develop personalized medicine, and take part in several other forms of research. Check it out it’s pretty interesting.

What Can We Use PCR For (CLICK HERE)

What Can We Use PCR For?

DNA Database and the Constitution

In this chapter, Frediani is required to submit a blood test before he is considered a “free man” (Weinberg, 180). The testing is necessary of him as a result of a new law that was established in 1988, stating that “convicted sexual assault offenders provide blood samples to the Department of Justice” (Weinberg, 109). This test is done mainly for future reference, as it makes it easier for future DNA analysis. I was interested to know more information about this law and the DNA database, and looked to Legal Match to better my knowledge. The website informed me that while DNA collection is currently mandatory in all states, 47 states require that DNA samples be taken from all convicted felons, some even from juvenile offenders. Since all suspects may be required to provide tests/samples depending on the state, ethics are brought into question. Some believe that DNA testing interferes with privacy. Blood samples, in particular, are often believed to be a bodily invasion of privacy.  Some argue that the DNA database is too easily accessible, and should be kept more private. It is especially a concern when dealing with juveniles, who can be tracked down by those with access to the DNA database. This issue brings up the question of whether or not DNA testing is a violation of the Constitution. The FBI’s Combined DNA Database System is a collection of all DNA samples across the 50 states, but some argue that it violates the Fourth Amendment, which states that unauthorized searches are prohibited. A person, guilty for crime or not, can be called into question simply because they have a sample of DNA in the database that is similar to the DNA found at a crime scene. 

DNA Database and the Constitution

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

“Eileen remembers his ugly temper, and also his emotional, romantic side. ‘He has two personalities,’ she said, ‘just like a Jekyll and Hyde. He even looked different when he was in a rage, his nostrils flaring, these wild eyes, this rage…'” -Weinberg, pg 185

I was very struck by Eileen’s comparison of Frediani and Jekyll and Hyde. The story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is one I’m pretty familiar with–an incredibly kind and well-meaning scientist who attempted to create a formula that would separate the evil and good inside men, only to have it turn him into a murderous (and in some adaptations of the story, lust-filled) monster. And it’s frightening how easy it is for readers to see the connection between Frediani and the Jekyll and Hyde, especially Hyde.
But there’s a major difference between Frediani’s fits of rage and Dr. Jekyll’s transformations in Mr. Hyde–Henry Jekyll has no control over the change, and as evidenced by the new name he assumes after the transformation, he becomes an entirely different person. No longer Dr. Jekyll. Only Edward Hyde. But Paul Frediani is always Paul Frediani, and as far as we know, he has nothing to excuse his temper and his violent outbursts. We know from the book that during the first assault trial, he was seeing a psychologist regularly; it’s unlikely he suffers from any kind of mental disorder, especially any kind that might encourage violence, or else the court psychologist would have made it known during the trial. And Frediani certainly can’t put the blame on a science experiment gone wrong. It seems the most likely explanation for his violence and short temper is that it’s simply a part of the man’s personality. Tell that to a jury, and it just might increase the likelihood they’ll see Frediani as the sort of person who’d commit a sexual assault, or a murder.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Mullis and Erlich

In chapter 10, the controversy between Kary Mullis and Henry Erlich over the concept of PCR was described.  Kary Mullis apparently came up with the idea behind it all on his own but teamed up with Erlich to develop the concept.  However, they envisioned totally different futures for the new DNA testing.  Mullis worked tirelessly to develop what he knew would become a revolutionary system of testing DNA while Erlich and Cetus hardly paid him any mind.  But, once they saw the monetary potential of Mullis’ ideas, they jumped right aboard.  They rushed to publish the article on PCR before Mullis wanted it to be released, because they wanted to be the first ones to discover it and ultimately the first to make money off of it.  But, was Mullis really treated unfairly?  He eventually got the fame he wanted when he received a Nobel Prize for his work.  Cetus ended up making all the money off the technology, which was almost 300 million dollars, compared to the 10,000 dollar bonus they paid Mullis.  I think that when Mullis won the Nobel Prize, it was ultimately the scientific community confirming that he was the one who invented the concept of PCR and after that point he should have been compensated for all the money that Cetus made off of him.

Mullis and Erlich

Myopia and Hyperopia

In Chapter 11 of Pointing from the Grave, Ferdiani receives surgery on his eye because he does not have 20/20 vision. I became  intrigued by the eye and decided to research on  the two common vision conditions. The  two most common types of vision conditions are nearsightedness and farsightedness. Nearsightedness( myopia) is when close objects are seen clearly but objects further away appear blurred. This happens when the light that comes to the eye does not focus directly on the retina but instead goes in front of it. When someone with nearsightedness looks in a distance the objects are not focused. Farsightedness (hyperopia) occurs when distant objects are seen clearly and close objects are not able to come into proper focus. This happens when the eyeball is short or if the cornea is not curved properly.

anatomy-of-the-eye
http://www.larsoneyecenter.com/chicago/images/anatomy-of-the-eye.gif

Works Cited: http://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/eye-and-vision-problems/glossary-of-eye-and-vision-conditions/hyperopia/myopia?sso=y

Myopia and Hyperopia

The Return to Violence

“He was two personalities'” Just like Jekyll of Hyde. He even looked different when he was in a rage, his nostrils flaring, these wild eyes, this strange…”(Eileen, 185).

One of the main characters of the book, suspect Paul Frediani, is not one to always be calm, cool and collected. Fighting legal battles and personal life, he can never seem to always stay in control, and have easily created anger outbursts, wether he wants to or not. Could it be in Frediani’s genetics to why he is easily angry? as we saw in class, there is a gene called the warrior gene, that when life goes certain ways, cna bring out into the light. according to the Daily mail, “German researchers asked more than 800 people to fill in a questionnaire designed to gauge how they handled anger.They also took a DNA test to determine which of three versions of a gene called DARPP-32 they were carrying.he gene affects levels of dopamine, a brain chemical linked to anger and aggression. Those with the ‘TT’ or ‘TC’ versions were significantly more angry than those with the ‘CC’ version, the journal Behavioural Brain Research will report.” So does Paul have the gene? or

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1176974/Keep-losing-temper-Blame-angry-gene.html#ixzz43CLoZZ1O

The Return to Violence

Nobel Prize Credit?

They continue to maintain that Henry Erlich’s work in making PCR into what is probably one of the most useful–and widely used– biochemical tools, the genetic equivalent of a photocopying machine, has been under-credited. But Mullis emphatically disagrees: ‘Henry Erlich? He was just the lucky person in the lab down the corridor who got to use PCR to amplify stuff’ – Weinberg, p157

I found this argument between Erlich and Mullis very interesting, mostly because I do not see how Erlich in any way would share in the Nobel Prize. Also, it seems to be a unique case to begin with because not many industry scientists receive Nobel Prizes. But regardless, I agree with Mullis solely getting the recognition. It is true that his company gave him the platform on which he needed to fully implement his idea, the “slow hunch” (Steven Johnson) was entirely his. In order for Mullis to find his eureka moment in that car that day, he needed to have a problem to solve and mull over in his head (which he did). Erlich’s contribution was patented fairly, as it was used directly to make money for his company.

Erlich developed PCR technology and made it practical, but he had no say or contribution to the actual theory or idea of what PCR was and how it worked. In Steven Johnson’s terms, he simply built off the platform. It would be like the fish who built its home on a coral reef taking credit for the reef, or the animal that feeds and thrives on the habitation surrounding the reef ecosystem, taking credit for its food being there to begin with, effectively sharing the credit with the polyp skeletons. The only action that is attributed to this feeding animal is that of eating and thriving. This is similar to Erlich, he took a base and built and thrived upon it.

 

Nobel Prize Credit?

Life After Jail

In chapter 12, the book addresses how Frediani seemed to be a changed man after being released from prison. When inmates are released from prison, people wonder whether or not they are actually changed, or only appear to have. A man named Billy Moore spent 17 years on death row for robbery and murder he pleaded guilty too. After protest from the victims family against the death penalty, Moore was let out on parole. He now spends his time speaking out against the death penalty and works on the idea that sometimes good people are driven to do terrible things. In hindsight, the criminal knows their actions were wrong and truly want to change. Although not the case for all prisoners, it is true that some are able to transform themselves after having time to reflect in jail. http://www.nodeathpenalty.org/new_abolitionist/february-2005-issue-34/billy-moore-people-prison-can-change

Life After Jail

A Plea of “No Contest”

“On May 18, 1989, David Paul Frediani changed his plea from “not guilty” to “no contest” to the burglary and sexual assault. It is essentially an admission of guilt, and carries a criminal record, but unlike a straight guilty plea, it cannot be used against the defendant in a subsequent civil action based on the same facts” -Weinberg, p180

I found this information about Frediani changing his plea extremely interesting. Firstly, I did not know that you could change your plea after you have already been found guilty by two separate juries. Secondly, it was very intriguing to learn that if you plead “no contest” you are basically admitting that you are guilty, but it lowers the consequences of that guilt. I wanted to learn more about the basics of a “no contest” plea so I read a question and answer forum on the Ohio State Bar Association website. From this website I learned more about how a “no contest” plea cannot be used against the defendant in future criminal proceedings. This website also stated that when a defendant pleads “no contest,” the judge still must find the defendant guilty or not guilty. This information about a “no contest” plea makes me question Frediani even further. Since be basically admitted to being guilty of a sexual assault, why should he be released from jail early for good behavior and not have this  case held against him if he is in fact guilty of sexually assaulting Helena? Especially since Frediani had a history of domestic violence and public indecency, it seems to me that a “no contest” plea is a way for people like Frediani to find loop holes in the system and escape the punishment that they deserve.

A Plea of “No Contest”

Tendencies of Perpetrators

“‘He once flew off because I did not butter the toast properly,’ Eileen claimed recently. ‘He started throwing everything. I was scared to death of him.'” -Weinberg, p185

In chapter 12 of Pointing From the Grave, Weinberg describes how Frediani, Helena’s supposed sexual assaulter, is extremely violent to yet another girlfriend. Frediani’s behavior towards his girlfriends is suspicious and consistent, leading me to wonder if these violence and underlying anger is a tendency of sexual assaulters and if so, what are other tendencies. The University of Michigan’s Sexual Assault Awareness website, describes typical tendencies of sexual assaulters. This page states that 99% of perpetrators are young adult males. These men tend to be very aggressive and impulsive and have a sense of “hypermasculinity,” or the exaggeration of male stereotypical behavior, such as physical strength and sexuality. Often times, they have access to consensual sex and are therefore raping for reasons other than their sexuality. It seems to me that Frediani displays a great deal of these tendencies.

Tendencies of Perpetrators

Life After Prison

While reading chapter 12, I was fascinated by how quickly Paul adjusted to life outside of jail.  It seemed in a matter of no time he had another corporate job, another girlfriend in Eileen, and had regained a sense of freedom in relationship with himself again.  This got me thinking about how prisoners in general feel when they first step foot outside of prison and how they fit back into the society they have not been a part of for years.  Paul was in jail for a  relatively short sentence, unlike Otis Johnson.       This link provides a short video detailing of what life is like for 69 year old Otis Johnson, who served 44 years in jail.  In Otis’s case, life evolved so much since he was incarcerated.  He thought people walking around on their phones were members if the CIA because that was the only use of headphones he could remember.  Based off the video, I would say it is impossible for Otis and other people who served long sentences to become fully accustom to a new life outside of jail, but, like Otis, they can still enjoy the fact that they are free and the fact that the past is the past.  Otis seems like he will always find new things in society that he doesn’t recognize, however he still is optimistic about his future of being free.

Life After Prison

Taq Polymerase

Chapter 10 mentions briefly that a new polymerase was discovered in 1986 by Erlich, one that would revolutionize the already occurring revolution of PCR. Taq polymerase is from the bacteria Thermis aquaticus, and was used by geneticists because of its heat resistance, as it comes from a thermophilic bacterium. I found this to be a fascinating breakthrough because this polymerase immensely increased the efficiency of PCR and would open even more doors for more fields. Even today, another bacterium has been used for its polymerase, Pyrococcus furiosis, because it is even better at copying the DNA in the PCR process than taq polymerase, by resulting in less errors due to its proofreading abilities. Moreover, this finding shows the relationship between all science fields, as genetics required microbiology to reach new heights.

Taq Polymerase

Progress vs Protection

“But there are plenty of business knocking at the commercial labs’ doors, and there were compelling commercial incentives for each lab to keep its products and processes secret” -(Weinberg 178)

Each year science and scientific research has become more expensive. Now in order to keep a laboratory running one must have enough grant money to keep the investment afloat. DNA research and experimentation is one the businesses in which scientists seek to keep their products and processes a secret due to the competition in the market. If a labs DNA tests or processes came out then eventually that lab would shut down as another company would use that research to profit. Therefore it is a necessity for labs to keep their DNA results secret. However, on the other side it could halt or impede upon scientific progress. If new discoveries in DNA were kept secret due to a lab fearing of other companies using the research then does it stop the flow of ideas in science. It is a very tough question to answer and one option could be the government spending more money on biotechnology research or providing more subsidies for labs.

Progress vs Protection

20/20 Left Out

In this chapter it is mentioned that Frediani had gotten eye surgery in order to improve his overall sight. Do you think that if the jury had known this his punishment would have been less secure? even it wasn’t i’m sure they would have sent him to a different because the psychiatric evaluation would have been different. This component would have been a useful weapon in Frediani’s arsenal, why do you think that this piece was left out during the trial. This makes me think about other trials where key pieces of information is left out. If this is common in our lawful world do you think that convictions and sentencing are less definite than we think they are.

20/20 Left Out

Other Uses of PCR

After reading about Kary Mullins revolutionary discovery of PCR I was curious to know more about its other uses. I think that Kary Mullins is responsible for one of the most important discovery in science because it has more uses than just forensics. For example I discovered that “PCR was used to quantify the HIV in blood in the spring of 1985. By mid-1987, a viable test was available and PCR was used to study the impact of antiviral drugs and also to screen donor blood samples for HIV” (Cheriyedath). Seeing as how AIDS and HIV were becoming an epidemic during the time I consider PCR to be extremely influential in more than just the criminal field. However I also learned in the article that “In 1987, DNA from a strand of human hair was amplified using PCR and this confirmed the ability of PCR to amplify DNA present in degraded samples part of forensic evidence” (Cheriyedath). I think its really neat that Mullins was able to develop a technique which not only was able to help expand crime solving was also able to be used in other areas of science which is really awesome.

Source Website 

Other Uses of PCR

Who Deserves What:What Deserves Who

In this chapter there was confusion as to who should have gotten all the credit in the discovery made by Mullis and Erlich. This makes me think about the importance of patenting. Without a doubt, the confusion that was present would have easily been dismissed with the use of a patent. On the contrary, if both innovators deserve an equal amount of credit for both of their works, do you think a patent would be the best option? If there was equal contribution to the overall discovery then both men deserve an equal amount of recognition. Then again, competition would have contradicted the idea of equal recognition because one man will always want more then the next.

Who Deserves What:What Deserves Who

Fallacy Assumption

in the beginning of this chapter, Frediani’s lawyer talks about how he needed to know where he was and with who on the day of August 22nd. This makes me think that the prosecutors wanted to pin everything on Paul even with the lack of hard evidence they had. I think that the prosecution had thought that Frediani was automatically guilty considering the heat he was already under. This makes me think of many false convictions that have occurred in the past, there have been countless instances where the prosecution convicts an innocent defendant based off nothing but assumptions. I think that Frediani’s conviction was a little hasty due to the fact that everyone wanted to see him go down. Guilty or Not Guilty.

Fallacy Assumption

Appeals

 It was the end of a  sultry San Francisco July, but when Paul Frediani took his seat in the Redwood City courtroom on the first day of the second trial, he looked less of the summer beach bum of two years before, and more like a seasoned old lag (weinberg 161).

So how did Frediani receive a second trial? What processes of the US court system allow for this appeal? This article covers how appeals work in the justice system. The article states that you cannot just request an appeal. Most cases require proof that the process of a fair trial were violated and there was a mistake during the trial. For Frediani, we can assume that this evidence was that the detectives statement was not shared. But more interestingly it states that appeal courts will not hear new evidence. And yet in this court case the new evidence of the eye surgery was brought up. This is qualified as neither a mistrial or a second trial but is simply an appeal of the first verdict by a higher court.

Appeals

PCR as a Platform

Chapter 11 of Pointing from the Grave extensively discusses the benefits of PCR as a DNA technology advancement. Specifically, there is discussion of the widespread of the use of PCR worldwide demonstrating its contributions to the way in which small samples of DNA can be used. Prior the PCR, DNA samples that were too small could not be used as conclusive evidence. However, after PCR, DNA could be amplified in order to use small samples. This changed the world of forensic science, because samples that could not originally be used could now be used and could ultimately change a court case immediately. Upon reading Chapter 11, I found it very interesting that Weinberg referred to PCR as

                                    “the word processor of biochemistry” (p 175).

How could this relate to Johnson’s ideas of platforms in the novel Where Good Ideas Come From? Essentially, PCR set the stage for new developments in DNA to occur. Before PCR, it seemed as though things were at a halt – small samples could not be used. Once PCR was developed, it set the stage for new innovation for new uses. It began to serve as the foundation for court cases. Overall, after reading this chapter, I was able to relate the ideas of PCR to the way in which Johnson described platforms. It seems as though PCR is a platform because it is setting the stage for new advancements in DNA technology.

PCR as a Platform

DNA Profiling

“The resulting pattern was not as discriminating as the DNA fingerprint- consisting of only two bands for each individual, one inherited from their mother and one from their father- but could be worked up to high levels of specificity by using several probes. Jeffreys accordingly dubbed this method “DNA profiling” (Weinberg 121)

DNA profiling has been one of the most useful techniques for identifying criminals that have left behind any form of cell from their bodies. The main function of Alec Jeffrey’s was the use of agarose gel electrophoresis, which sorted the cut DNA strands using an electric current. The electrophoresis process uses a negative charge to sort the DNA where the shorter the DNA strand the farther down the agarose gel it will move. The pattern that comes out of the process is the “fingerprint” part of the DNA profiling process because you can compare different agarose gel patterns much like you can with fingerprints.

DNA Profiling

Sex Offenders

Since Frediani was released from prison he was listed as a sex offender, but this oddly enough did not seem to bother him. He was ready to start a new life. Although he did have a parole officer that he had to check in with every month. This made me start to wonder if there is a certain set of rules that sex offenders have to follow.

I found an article that listed all the rules that they have to follow. There are many restrictions that I would never have even thought about. Sex offenders can not have any contact with pornographic entertainment and can not go to places that promote this. It also states that they must tell any new relationships that they get into about their past. This answers the question that Frediani must have told his new girlfriend about everything that had occurred. One thing that did surprise me is that they are no longer to purchase weapons. This list from the article really brought a new view to the book and even Frediani’s new lifestyle. It makes me stop and think why he was so willing to accept the title of a sex offender when so many negative things came with that. http://www.doc.wa.gov/community/sexoffenders/rulesincommunity.asp

Sex Offenders

Autopsy

The whole idea the the man’s organs were switched by the nursing home in chapter 10 was amazing to me that the Pestinikas were so desperate to stay in operation that they tried to hide their malpractice.

I firstly did not know how organs can show that a person has been starved so i decided to research that. http://www.medicaldaily.com/now-entering-starvation-mode-what-happens-your-metabolic-processes-when-you-stop-feeding-280666 This website talked about how when you starve your body, your body begins to eat away at the protein in the muscle because it is looking for some source of energy. Muscles would be deteriorated in the dead man’s body and this would be a sure tell of starvation. Also the website said that the stomach would be bloated as well (edema).

I was also interested in knowing how easy it would be to switch the organs or remove them without anyone knowing. I did some research and found an article where a medical examiner removed the brain of a dead teen and then kept it. This was taken to court where the court ruled “There is simply no legal directive that requires a medical examiner to return organs or tissue samples derived from a lawful autopsy and retained by the medical examiner after such an autopsy”. This was so interesting to me and really shows how much power medical examiners have and that in chapter 10 it would have been very possible to remove the organs without anyone knowing.  http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jun/12/new-york-organs-medical-examiners

 

Autopsy

Significance of Networking

“To make your mind more innovative, you have to place it inside environments that share the same network signature: networks of ideas or people that mimic the neutral networks of a mind exploring the boundaries of the adjacent possible.” – Johnson (47)

Ideas, in my mind, are like babies. They must be incubated, nurtured, and talked about. One person coming up with a great idea without any sort of advice, adjustments, or critiquing, is almost unheard of. When a great idea comes to mind, it only makes sense to put it to the test and see what type of response its gets from your peers. The people in these liquid networks are what elevate mediocre ideas into great ideas. These networks provide a platform where ideas can be edited and enhanced in an intellectually competent environment. Liquid networks push individuals to think on another level and get advice to further develop these ideas. Whether it be a laboratory or a coffee shop, liquid networks positively contribute to idea development. Its almost hard to imagine a scenario where networks wouldn’t contribute to the development of an idea. These networks are what allow ideas to develop and mature, while maybe inspiring new ideas in the process.development-cycle-idea-22605745

Significance of Networking

The Adjacent Possible

“The adjacent possible is a kind of shadow figure, hovering on the edges of the present state of things, a map of all the ways in which the present can reinvent itself.” – Johnson (31)

The adjacent possible explicates how simply following an idea, and digging deeper into the subject matter, can lead to wonderful things. I’ve always been a person who never settled for “just because…” I always wanted to know why things were they way they were. What circumstances and scenarios led to this happening? The adjacent possible would tell me to dig deeper, and to find out why. Who knows what I might find, or what ideas may be sparked in the process. The important thing is that just by analyzing and searching for understanding, there are endless possibilities of what I might find or what I might discover. There are so many different ways to reach the same objective, its all about taking that first step and digging deeper. This opens up new doors of discovery and inspiration, which we may never have gotten if we just settled for “just because…” The adjacent possible reveals to us, how the world is capable of extraordinary change, but we’d never know if we just settled for the basic answers. The adjacent possible is what keeps discovery interesting and reminds us how truly capable the world is of change.

The Adjacent Possible

Technological Acceleration

“This Acceleration reflects not only the flood of new products, but also outgrowing willingness to embrace these strange new devices and put them to use.” – Johnson (13)

It is amazing how fast we are adapting to new technologies, and then moving on to the next big thing. Technological progress has been greater in the past 50 years than all of humanity combined. We are developing new technologies at a ridiculously fast rate that its becoming tough to stay up to date with current technologies. Its forcing us to learn these technologies and further our technological knowledge. Unless of course, you decide you don’t want to adapt to societies technological progression, which is becoming very difficult to do as technology plays a larger role in our lives every year. A study conducted by The Emerging Future predicts that in the next 20 years, we will have surpassed our technical progress one million-fold. At this rate, it seems impossible to be able to adapt based upon one current lifestyles. It will be interesting to see how our lives will change when all this technology is released. speed-technological-advancement_20years

Technological Acceleration

Matching Hairs and Blood Types

Two types of evidence found at the crime scene of Helena Greenwood’s assault were three strands of pubic hair, and a semen sample. Mona Ng, the criminologist who examined each piece of evidence, noted that:

“Two of the hairs could not be associated with the suspect Fredriani. The third hair could not be excluded as possibly coming from him.”  – Weinberg, p89

After checking the FBI website for information on forensic hair analysis, I learned that hair evidence can easily determine the race of a suspect and even the sex or age, albeit with more difficulty. Even though two of the strands found couldn’t be linked to Fredriani, the third could have belonged to a number of other men of the same race; Dr. Ng further explained that 14% of  population shares the blood type found in the semen sample, a statement which also expands the number of possible suspects when applied to the Bay Area alone. For these reasons I find it slightly illogical to convict Fredriani with what appears to be coincidental evidence.

https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/lab/forensic-science-communications/fsc/july2000/deedric1.htm/

Matching Hairs and Blood Types

Murder and Sexual Abuse

In Chapter 6, Helena Greenwood is fatally murdered on her way to work. This came as a big shocker to me. I did not expect her to die in the middle of the trial, but because it is a quite a lengthy, I suppose I should have suspected something to occur. At first, I was angry that Helena died without really figuring out who her abuser was, but then this made me suspect Frediani even further. His story did not match up to what it should have. I began to wonder how many victims are attacked when they are going through a trial, what protection are they granted from potential threats? Is it common for sexually abused victims to be murdered? Further, was Helena’s murder an accident? Or a result of excessive force and power during another sexual abuse attempt?

Murder and Sexual Abuse

Alec Jeffreys- Testing of DNA

In Chapter 8 of Pointing from the Grave, we read about the first case that used DNA fingerprinting to catch sexual abuser, and murderer, Colin Pitchfork. We are introduced to Alec Jeffreys early in the chapter, for he was a geneticist who was interested in discovering how differences in DNA can be used to identify criminals.  Jeffreys’ method was also used in the case of a Ghanaian boy who was denied entry back into his country of birth, England.

“He was stopped and detained by immigration officers at the airport, who suspected that a substitution might have occurred. Conventional serological tests-including ABO and PGM- showed that the woman and the boy appeared to be related” (Weinberg 117)

The DNA fingerprinting allowed for the boy’s reunion with his family, but the case really struck me as odd. However, I understand why there was a concern. It made me wonder how many times this is used, falsely or otherwise, on immigrants coming into Western countries. I was also intrigued by the “mass blooding” discussed in the chapter because it seemed like a strange strategy to go about finding a perpetrator, but the method was probably devised out of desperation.

 

Alec Jeffreys- Testing of DNA

DNA Reference

“Tucked away in one of the genes we were studying was this peculiar stuttered piece of DNA that actually gave us the golden key that unlocked the door to [the evolution of genes].” (Weinberg, 113)

Its interesting how this can relate to serendipity in Johnson’s book. They weren’t necessarily looking for this “key”, but through experiment, they found it. Although they were conducting an entirely separate experiment, this breakthrough presented itself. Johnson told us how this can apply to real life situations and this was a first hand testament to Johnson’s idea. The concepts in biotechnology actually range across the whole realm of science, forensic science in particular. Johnson would appreciate knowing that his ideas were brought to life in a separate realm of science.

DNA Reference

Invasion of Privacy or Concrete Evidence?

” Tell her that this is the man who murdered and raped her predecessor” (Weinberg, pg. 136).

In the middle of chapter 9, Weinberg reports that someone had called Helena’s old work at Genprobe and requested to talk to her successor. The message he had to leave was that he killed and raped Helena. Than he hung up. It was confusing at first because I was curious as to why they didn’t trace the phone line to see where it came from but maybe in 1985 they didn’t have such technology. However, this reminded me of a popular show called “Person of Interest”. Basically is about two men who created a machine that monitors every means of surveillance. By this technology, it somehow is able to predict within 24 hours of a crime that was pre meditated. One of the main things it uses are cell phones. Most everyone has a cellphone and its easily traceable. But even if someone used a pay phone, the street cameras placed everywhere has a clear direct view of the people using them. Assuming that this technology is not available in 1985, how can someone confessing over the phone be handled? It does not make sense that Frediani made the phone call seeing how he was placed in jail at the time but maybe he had an accomplice? This call may indicate that another person could be involved or a third party that we are not expecting could be the cause of Helena’s death.

We discussed in class how Iphones have the ability to tract every place you go and how long you were there for. It makes me questioned if the government should have the ability to access this information and know my whereabouts daily.

Sometimes people have difficult finding alibi’s in a court case, such as Frediani did, so I wonder if using the tracking technology of cellphones could of changed the result of his conviction if in 1985 they had them. It seems as if someone had claimed that they were with the person and there phone indicated that they were also present at that location, the alibi would hold stronger. However, since Frediani was guilty of the sexual assault, having a cellphone track his whereabouts may have been considered an invasion of privacy. I do not know much about the law but it doesn’t seem likely that the court would care much about someones privacy in this
particular case.  camera

Image Source

 

Invasion of Privacy or Concrete Evidence?

Reasonable Doubt: When is a Person Wrongfully Convicted

“Reasonable doubt is not a mere possible doubt, because everything relating to human affairs and depending on moral evidence is open to some possible or imaginary doubt. It is that state of the case which after the entire comparison and consideration of all the evidence leaves the minds of the jurors in that consideration that they cannot say they feel an abiding conviction to a moral certainty of the of the charge. “ -Weinberg (p. 107)

I really enjoyed reading this quote in chapter 7 because reasonable doubt is the biggest obstacle that prosecutors must overcome to get a conviction. This quote got me sparked my interest to find cases where the sentence can be either overturned or reversed in the defendant’s favor.

I wanted to have a little more understanding of what reasonable doubt meant. I did some online searching and sound some YouTube videos that explains reasonable doubt a little better. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezGcrdklYh0,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQw8r1xW4CM

After looking over some cases involving reasonable doubt, I stumbled upon the Manuel Velez case of 2013. This case involves a construction worker named Manuel Velez who got convicted for killing his girlfriend’s child, Angel. Velez was sentenced to death row in the state of Texas. Velez could have been killed by the state of Texas until a team of civil litigators working pro bono with the ACLU’s Capital Punishment Project tried to appeal the case. Looking through the medical files of deceased baby Angel the team of lawyers found an unusual file. In Angel’s pediatrician files, the attorney found that Angel’s head circumference had grown rapidly before Velez moved in with the mother. Forensic witness expert, Dr. Daniel Brown testified that the abnormal and rapid growth of baby Angel’s head is a sign of reoccurring violent head trauma. It was also noted that Angel was also vomiting and convulsing months before his death. These signs and symptoms point towards  Velez’s girlfriend. This new evidence displays that the death of Angel could not be confirmed without a doubt Manuel Velez’s involvement with the murder of his child Angel.   After nine 9 years in prison and in death row, Manuel Velez was found innocent on the grounds of reasonable doubt. The jury during the trial found that the death of Angel could not be attributed to Manuel Velez based on the newly found evidence.

 

Resources :

http://www.texasmonthly.com/articles/reasonable-doubt-the-manuel-velez-case/

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/oct/08/texas-releases-death-row-inmate-manuel-velez

https://www.aclu.org/blog/speakeasy/after-9-years-manuel-velez-innocent-man-free-last

Reasonable Doubt: When is a Person Wrongfully Convicted

Questioning Trial Protocol

There have been many posts in the question forum pertaining to the courts decision to restrict the jury from learning about Helena’s death while the trial was going on, and I thought that I would address both sides of the argument of whether or not the Jury had the right of knowing. If you can picture yourself as one of the jurors, how would you react towards Frediani knowing that the woman he is on trial for sexually assaulting has just been found murdered? I think if the jurors found out about Helena’s death, then any of their existing impressions upon Frediani may have been more explicit. Naturally you would feel bad hearing about such a crime, and when the man potentially responsible for a similar crime is on defense in front of you, your emotions may take over. On the other hand, if the defense and prosecution must share all evidence with each other, the judge, and the jury, why shouldn’t the jury be informed about the victim’s murder if all other parties are aware?

https://www.wicourts.gov/services/juror/docs/deliberate.pdf

Not too relevant to my post in particular, but here are the Wisconsin state guidelines for jury deliberations. It highlights how jurors are supposed to dissect evidence and think about the different pieces of evidence involved in the case. Also, it discusses how the importance of evidence is arrived at, and how jurors “judge” how strong certain parts of the prosecution and defense arguments are. It’s important to note how juries are formed from everyday citizens in our country and are expected to learn how to judge law in a certain period of time, nonetheless determine a person’s fate.

Questioning Trial Protocol

Platforms in Criminal Justice

In chapter 8, the Pitchfork case is discussed as an example of a criminal being brought to justice by a “marriage of science and police work.”  DNA played a huge role in not only bringing a killer to justice, but also saving an innocent man from spending the rest of his life in prison.  Using blood samples, the police were able to match Pitchfork’s DNA to the blood at the crime scene and confirm him as the killer and sex offender.  But, this case is a prime example of the platforms that the criminal justice system is built on all coming to together and working in unison.  Research and development of DNA testing, fingerprinting, and behavioral analysis all came together to catch a killer.  Science was now being successfully implemented in the field of criminal justice

Platforms in Criminal Justice

PCR: Pretty Convenient Research

“‘Suddenly I knew how to do it,’ he recounts. ‘If i could locate a thousand sequences out of billions with one short piece of DNA, I could use another short piece to narrow the search. This one would be designed to bind to a sequence just down the chain from the first sequence I had found. It would scan over the thousand possibilities out of the first search to find just the one I wanted.'” -Weinberg 151

Mullis’ explanation of how the PCR could work seemed very complex to me at first. Not exactly a great chemistry student, I was rather confused about how the DNA was being tracked and replicated. However, I started thinking about this particular explanation as a research problem and it became much clearer to me.

Mullis mentioned that his goal was to “narrow the search” of a certain DNA sequence. He is able to do so by adding more of the DNA sequences to the original probe to make it even more specific what he was looking for; essentially, he refined his search. I performed a similar experiment here with research on Google:

First I searched the word “puppies”. The were over 89 million search results.

Puppies

So I narrowed down my search by adding more specificity as to what I was looking for. I typed “pitbull” in front of “puppies”, and my search was narrowed by about 76 million.

pitbull puppies

Finally, I cut the search results from the millions to the thousands by adding a third adjectival phrase to my search: “blue nose”

blue nose pitbull puppies

Just as Mullis reasoned that adding more sequences to his search would help him find exactly the DNA match he was looking for, I added adjectives to my Google search that lead me to exactly what I was looking for: a picture of this little sweetheart.

blue nose pitbull puppy

Photo courtesy of “Me and My Pet” 

PCR: Pretty Convenient Research

Race and Crime in the United States

Pointing from the Grave brings up a huge issue of the perpetrator’s race. She is questioned multiple times if he is black, white, hispanic and more. This brought me to discuss race and crime in the United States. In the United States of America there are many people of color who are in prison. People of color are not treated the same as their white counterparts. Many people do not have equal access to the housing, public benefits , employment and more. One reason that people of color are facing this problems is due to the war on drugs. According to the NAACP,”In 2002, blacks constituted more than 80% of the people sentenced under the federal crack cocaine laws and served substantially more time in prison for drug offenses than did whites, despite that fact that more than 2/3 of crack cocaine users in the U.S. are white or Hispanic”.The amount of drug use in these communities has significantly increased. Another major problem facing people of color is that, once convicted black and hispanic offenders face a longer sentencing than white offenders.

Works Cited: “Criminal Justice Fact Sheet.” Criminal Justice Fact Sheet. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2016.

Here is a website featuring criminal justice reform : Website

Race and Crime in the United States

What makes a murderer: Nature vs. Nurture

Chapter 8 of Pointing From the Grave allows readers to continue to question what causes a person to commit murder. Is it their difficult background and upbringing, or is it their surroundings? I was very intrigued by this question so I decided to look into it a bit further. In my research, I found an article called Serial Killers: Nature vs. Nurture. The author of this article discusses, the differences between serial killers and murders, and discusses topics such as motives, the impulses and desires of killing, and how different surroundings and backgrounds lead individuals to kill. It’t a pretty interesting article, check it out! The link is below:

http://www.nc-cm.org/article213.htm

hannibal

Photo taken from Google

 

What makes a murderer: Nature vs. Nurture

Chapter 7

“Let me just tell you that if you didn’t do this crime, a terrible injustice has been done here. And only you know in your heart whether you did it. Nobody else in this room really knows whether you did it, except you” (109).

I found this statement from the judge as deeply concerning. Yes, of course if Frediani did not do this crime than it would be a “terrible injustice” to him. However, by saying that “nobody else in this room really knows whether you did it, except you,” is a problematic statement for a judge to end a confirmatory sentencing hearing on. The judge could have been wiser with his words. This last statement is a ploy to make Frediani reflect and assess the gravity of his innocence or lack-thereof, as judges commonly do as they sentence convicted defendants. I believe that the judge may have inadvertently revealed that a reasonable doubt still remains in the air of this case. Granted, both legal teams made strategic maneuvers to prove the innocence or guilt of Frediani, but the prosecution did come out slightly stronger by the typically stronger rhetoric that prosecution teams use to sway jurors. The evidence was compelling against Frediani, but it was only superficially convincing. A deeper analysis should reason, in my opinion, that Frediani should have been ruled innocent on the basis of feeble circumstantial evidence that only really strengths were on an outdoor teapot and a conflicting account of his confession. Now there is a difference between being 100% innocent and not guilty enough beyond a reasonable doubt. Only Frediani knows the truth, but the presentation of his “guilt” should not have been enough to convict him.

Chapter 7

Due Process

In this chapter, the police interrogated a 17 year old boy in hope to obtain enough evidence in order to convict him. Being that the boy is still a minor, do you think the police denied him of his natural rights in some way? I feel if the boy had a lawyer or a guardian by his side this interrogation would have gone differently. It is more than likely that the boy has never been in a situation similar to this one, it may be a possibility that the police got a false confession from acts including duress. It is also likely that the boy had not been familiarized with his right to a lawyer. I feel this situation would have went down a lot differently if an adult was by his side.

Due Process

Whose fingerprints?

” ‘… not Helena Greenwood’s fingerprints, not Roger Franklin’s… usable, identifiable fingerprints of an unknown person. On the screen.’ They were not Paul Frediani’s fingerprints. ” Weingberg, page 105

This part of the the chapter really caught my attention becuase Frediani was charged anyway. This is a big indicator that there was someone else in the house that could have done this crime. If they are trusting that there is a 14% chance that it was Frediani, they should trust that there is 100% chance that someone else was in the house because of those fingerprint found. It is hard to believe that someone was convicted when there are another two thousand people that could have had the same results. It seems that their argument did not have as much evidence as they actually need to convict someone. First the should find the person who’s fingerprints were in the house.

Whose fingerprints?

Loving Lovin’

Since the dawn of humanity, mankind has been perplexed by this strange attraction we call love. People have tried to define love as a joining of two halves of a whole, a union of two bodies, and even as simply an act of asserting dominance over others. However, modern interpretations of love are much more emotionless, as shown by this article from Fusion.com, which even goes as far as to show what is happening in your brain during different “stages” of love. In my opinion, Frediani gets stuck in these early stages in his college and early-20’s life, and this immobility contributed to his problems with Helena Greenwood in the late 80’s. Love is a complex emotion, based in a variety of sciences from neuroscience to anthropology to most fields of biology. All in all, it is a highly interesting field and I cannot wait to find out more about it in the future.

Loving Lovin’

DNA fingerprinting history

Chapter 8 gave a great look into the history of DNA involvement in police investigations, beginning with the development of DNA fingerprinting. A major part of the DNA fingerprinting process involves the use of restriction enzymes, which put simply cut the desired section of DNA. However, the chapter does elaborate too much on the use of the enzymes, or the process of gel electrophoresis itself. This link describes the uses and functions of restriction enzymes, and how they are a vital tool for genetic researchers. Even classes here have students use restriction enzymes to cut DNA, for example in the process of PCR work in lab sections.

How Restriction Enzymes work

DNA fingerprinting history

When is Bail Given?

“Not only was there the assault on Andrea and the strange attempted burglary, but Frediani had been spotted sitting in his car on the side of the road at 3:45 am, and… was hit in the face by a man wielding a tree branch, apparently unprovoked…. [Fredian] was told that his bail had been revoked and that he was going back to prison.” – Weinberg, p13

In this chapter of Pointing from the Grave, Weinberg explains the suspect, Frediani’s, strange behavior while he was out on bail. He assaulted his girlfriend, broke into his old work building, and got into a physical altercation. Eventually, his bail was revoked, which led me to question why he was granted bail in the first place. I decided to research reasons why a person could be denied in the first place. According to a bail bond website, suspects can be denied bail if they are seen as a flight risk (someone who will run), if they’re accused of a very serious crime, if they were already on probation when arrested, or if they pose a threat to the public.

What constitutes posing a threat to the public? Does the defendant have to have a past of violence or mental illness in order to be deemed unfit to live in society? Is this a case by case decision? Personally, I believe Frediani should not have been granted bail in the first place due to his possible mental illness and due to the violent nature of his crime.

When is Bail Given?

Justice or Revenge

In this chapter the jury was not notified of Helena’s death. Obviously this happened while the trial was underway, not before. This makes me think what if the jury had known that she was murdered. Do you think the punishment toward the defendant would have been more harsh? or is it just a humane right for the jury to be notified of this death. I feel if the jury had known about this, this would have forced a biased opinion, maybe it is right but the punishment would have to fit the crime and the jury would have been thinking in vengeful ways because the last memory Helena had was one of hate due to the defendants actions.

Justice or Revenge

DNA: Is it Useful by Itself?

“Alex Jeffreys was delighted, and more than anything by the fact that Pitchfork was eventually tracked down by a marriage between science and police work. ‘That was important. The union kept the police happy, and showed that DNA can’t do anything by itself'” – Weinberg, p125

This quote really struck me while I was reading this chapter. I found it very interesting that Jeffreys pointed out that DNA alone does not accomplish much. This quote made me think about the individual aspects that both police and science bring to the table, and how together they achieve something great. Science, or more specifically DNA, needs to be paired with something, such as police force or crime investigation, in order to prove itself useful. I thought Weinberg showcased the influence police and science have on each other very successfully by using the word “marriage.” By using this idea of mixing two elements, in this case police and science, the readers can get a full sense of how police and science work together to solve crimes. Alone, police would be less effective in solving crimes because they would not have the technology to test DNA samples. Similarly, science would have no place in solving crimes if the police did not utilize the accomplishments made in the scientific field.

DNA: Is it Useful by Itself?

Fake Blood

Ian Kelly gave blood in Colin’s place because Colin was going around asking his coworkers to give blood because he had a record. I was wondering if this occurred often because i had heard of people using someone else’s urine for a urine test but never of using blood. I found an article about a case that happened where the man also used someones else’s blood in hopes of avoiding the police. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Schneeberger

John Schneeberger avoided the police by putting blood that was not his own into his body and thus his DNA did not come up.  He implanted blood from another man so that when his blood was drawn for a DNA test his own DNA did not come up. It is very shocking that they based so much of the case on DNA because his one victim was even able to remember his sexual assault on her but this was not enough to convict John.

The case in the book and in real life really opened my eyes up to how DNA maybe should not be the only thing considered in a case since there are possible ways to fake this.

Fake Blood

The Risk of Bias

I found it very interesting and somewhat confusing that the whole court trial was conducted as if Helena were alive. They talked about her as if she were still living. I was wondering if this had to do with the jury and making sure that there was no bias present to sway their opinion. I decided to do some research on the risk of bias and found this article… http://www.ncsc.org/~/media/Files/PDF/Topics/Gender%20and%20Racial%20Fairness/IB_Strategies_033012.ashx

One risk factor that this article talked about that I thought related to Helena’s case was “certain emotional states”. The article explains that when a certain emotional state is provoked then it will produce “stereotypical judgements”. If the jury pitied Roger because he had just lost his wife then they may have been swayed to see his side. Or if the jury then believed that maybe Frediani had been involved in the death of Helena then their opinion would have also changed.

It was interesting to see how actual steps have been taken to reduce the risk of bias and how this was reflected in the novel.

The Risk of Bias

DNA Police Training

http://www.policechiefmagazine.org/magazine/index.cfm?fuseaction=display_arch&article_id=905&issue_id=62006

With an increasing reliance on DNA evidence, it is crucial police officers are trained to handle crime scenes properly. Police officers in Colorado are undergoing extensive training to ensure evidence is not tampered with during any part of an investigation. A brutal Colorado murder was solved through the use of DNA blood sampling and really promoted the public and police departments support for better funded training. if officers are trained before stepping on a crime scene, less mistakes will happen and more accurate suspects will be found.

DNA Police Training

How impartial really are jury’s?

In today’s society with the use of technology in the the media and communication, it is rare to find someone who has not heard of popular news stories and cases. Courts try to ensure a jury is composed of unbiased, unknowing citizens who will approach the case with a fresh perspective. However, how accurate is it to say all members of the jury have not actually heard of a case, especially famous ones? Or to say everyone does not have some level of prejudice towards certain race, genders, etc.? I believe something must be changed in order to improve the court system and ensure suspects as well as victims are being given a truly unbiased ruling.

Jury.Box_

How impartial really are jury’s?

Science vs Police

“Eventually tracked down by a marriage between science and police work” -(Weinberg 125)

Science is often seen as revolutionary and and answer for all things. However in some aspects of society specifically religion it is seen as a rival or conflict. In the book “Pointing From The Grave” the author illustrates the importance of a successful and productive marriage between science and police work. In pop culture especially in CSI shows science and police always go hand in hand from finger print scanning to the autopsy to even blood stains on a carpet. However in reality it seems that with the increasing police force and need for more guns and ammunition, forensics and science almost seemed to be cast aside. There have been even politician trying to cut scientific research for the need of military and defense spending. However, as with the view of history there needs to be a strong relationship between science and police work. In the end science offers and answers all the important questions posed by the police force.

Science vs Police

Coincidental Evidence

“The jury had played their trust in the system, in the police and in the science, and chosen to disregard the defense’s alternative explanation of the events of the previous year.”(weinberg, 108).

This chapter really put the idea head on that in a case where the victim dies while a trial goes on, DNA becomes even more important. The type of blood and enzyme type that Frediani has, and that one finger print have been enough to hurt him, and the mention of wearing cologne and talking smartly also hurting him, but with no similar DNA found, and still the one print, can you fully convict a person with beyond reasonable doubt? this is something that i hope comes up later in the book.

 

Coincidental Evidence

Genetic Fingerprinting Solving Cases

I found Alec Jeffery’s discovery of genetic fingerprinting very interesting and of course it has been very useful in solving crimes since its birth.  At this point in the book, Paul has been convicted for the sexual act against Helena Greenwood, but the fact that 14% of the total population had the same matching secretion as the semen left behind on her pillowcase makes the case a little less certain.  Paul’s attorney desperately tried to argue, even though his client matched, that 14% of the people in the area is a large number of possible offenders.  If genetic fingerprinting were to be used, prosecutors could tell for certain if the semen left at the scene of the crime was in fact Paul’s.  The same way that Colin Pitchfork was convicted for his brutal double rape and homicides, Paul could definitely revealed as the culprit.  This type of DNA analysis could also be used to find Helena’s killer.  Below is a link to an article that highlights an interview that Alec Jeffery participated in.  Jeffery’s discovery all the way back in 1984 is discussed.     

Genetic Fingerprinting Solving Cases

Police DNA Databases

In my Moodle questions this week, i asked “Since the police depend so much on DNA evidence when investigating certain crimes, would it be ethical for the government to create a database with the DNA of all American citizens?” Turns out, such a database exists today! The Combined DNA Index System (CODIS for short) allows the FBI and other government agencies to use DNA analysis to solve a myriad of problems, from missing persons cases to murder and rape trials like the one in Pointing from the Grave. Many people would say that this gives governments too much power, allowing them to know too much about its citizens. Perhaps in the future, this database could even be used to clone people or grow organs for them! I thought this was really cool, and just goes to show that you should always check for facts before asking questions!

Police DNA Databases

DNA Tests and Freeing Prisoners

One of the most “newsworthy” types of stories is the story of a person who was previously convicted and then freed on new DNA evidence. The Netflix documentary Making a Murderer, which has grown rapidly in popularity and sparked a lot of debate, covers a man wrongly convicted of murder and then freed in 2003. When pondering the questions that this series and other stories like it ask, many are starting to suspect that many in prison right now are innocent, and could be freed like Steven Avery, the convict in Making a Murderer. This article from the New York Times talks about the difficulties convicts have getting DNA tests while imprisoned by the American justice system.

DNA Tests and Freeing Prisoners

The New Funeral Tradition: Preserving The DNA Of Your Loved Ones

Chapter 8 focuses on the beginning of DNA evidence and how it has become the most significant forensic advancement in recent years. This reminded me of an article that saw a few days ago which talked about a new funeral trend. A Canadian genetic company SecuriGene is offering to preserve family members DNA as a memorial. They are arguing that in addition to there being practical reasons you are honoring your family member by keeping their DNA. I thought it was interesting because something people did not know existed 200 years ago is now being a part of funeral memorials.

Source Article

The New Funeral Tradition: Preserving The DNA Of Your Loved Ones

Circumstantial Evidence’s Value

In chapter seven it seems that circumstantial evidence is able to place Frediani in jail. While there is some direct evidence such as the fingerprint it is largely circumstantial evidence. I did some research and found an article which talked about why some juries cant convict with circumstantial evidence. It gave examples such as the Casey Anthony case where there was a lot of circumstantial evidence but not were not able to convict because there was not enough physical evidence. The article included a quote which I liked which says its  “better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.” This made me think that while a lot of times circumstantial evidence may make people look very guilty physical evidence should be the top priority every time.

 

Circumstantial Evidence website

Circumstantial Evidence’s Value

Human Exaptation of Genes

“Much of the rest is ‘junk’…[consisting] partly of now defunct genes–that once carried instructions that are no longer relevant. For instance, in humans, the stretch of DNA that told our bodies to grow thick long hair all over is no longer useful, but, instead of being deleted, remains alongside a DNA message that disables it.” (Weinberg, 114-115)

This entire process is exaptation. As we learned from Johnson, exaptation is taking something, here a gene, and defining its role. The example he gave was birds’ wings used for flight instead of warmth.

Similarly here, the gene that programs for thick hair all over out bodies is not deleted or modified. Instead it is given a partner to work with. The partner gene allows the original hair gene to still exist, while also giving the modern human body the normal image. A new purpose is given with the aid of a newly (well, relatively) developed partner gene.

Before this example, I didn’t fully understand how exaptation worked in humans, or how it was different than evolution. Now I understand that exaptation in humans works to address a very specific genetic code. The partner gene process was developed to help in the evolution of humans.

If the gene were deleted instead of redefined in purpose, we would not be humans or advanced primates. Similarly, if the wings of a bird were deleted instead of redefined in purpose, they would not be birds.

Human Exaptation of Genes

Frediani’s Past

It was interesting getting a background on Frediani’s past. His childhood was relatively normal, despite his mild medical condition and his curfew, nothing in his past was so dramatically terrible that would lead him to domestic and sexual abuse. He was not abused, no one was killed, nothing seemed to drive him to commit crime. What surprised me were his ties to the real estate business. I thought because he worked for Lincoln properties he could use the clients that he’s been talking to as potential sexual abuse victims. It’s twisted, but maybe that is how he picks his victims. He uses his job and place of power to find women.

Frediani’s Past

Reasonable Doubt

Reasonable doubt is not a mere possible doubt, because everything relating to human affairs and depending on moral evidence is open to some possible or imaginary doubt. It is that state of the case which after the entire comparison and consideration of all the evidence leaves the mind of the jurors in that condition that they cannot say they feel an abiding condition to a moral certainty of the truth of the charge. (weinberg 107)

In the case of Mr. Frediani, the jury was never presented with precise evidence that he in fact had committed the crime. In fact, the defense proved that 14% of all men have the same characteristics that came from the analysis of his fluids, and the fluids left on the crime scene. In my mind I had assumed he would be found innocent because it would be possible for so many others to have committed the crime, and he had an alibi for the fingerprint on the teapot. But in this case, the jury found him guilty beyond reasonable doubt because the prosecution convinced them that not only was Mr. Frediani on of the men in the 14% but he was also the one who committed the crime. Even without solid proof that he was guilty, the jury can legally rule him guilty of the crime.

Reasonable Doubt

The Need, Right, and Want To Know

It was suspicious that the prosecution had never mentioned at the time that Mrs. Liu had seen a black man in the neighborhood on the night that Helena Greenwood was attacked. “In all fairness, do you want your government to suppress that kind of evidence? To hide it from you?” (Weinberg 106).

This quote ties into another important issue that is seen in court cases all of the time – deciding how much information and what kinds of information to reveal to the public. This issue brings up the questions: how much is enough? How much is necessary? What kinds of information need to be revealed? Often times, there is not a definitive answer, but I am aware that a general standard of how to handle the disclosing of information does exist. The revealing/secrecy of information can be categorized in three ways: the right to know, the need to know, and the want to know. The right to know would include most governmental information that the public should be knowledgeable of. For example, the public has the right to know of governmental meetings. The want to know includes information that the public would want to know for their general pleasure, an example being entertainment news. Lastly, the need to know would be information that is critical to everyday life. An example here would be information that affects the safety of the public, such as harmful threats or severe weather conditions. In the case of Helena Greenwood, I think the public has a right to know that a black man was in the neighborhood the night of the attack. Who knows, this could be a key piece of information. But then again, the court needs to investigate further into who this man is and find out what other characteristics he possesses. It is possible that he could be Frediani, who also has rather dark, tan skin. 

The Need, Right, and Want To Know

Reliability of Physical Signals

I think it is very interesting that Collins made a counterpoint on Murray’s point that Frediani was visibly shaken when told that his prints were identified on the teapot– his shoulders sank and his face became flushed. That is also when he made the statement about being drunk during the act. But Collins reacts by saying that most people who are interviewed in a police station are physically altered or affected, and their physical features can give away their nervousness. So people are not always calm or collected, even when innocent.

This idea reminded me of our discussion of lie detector tests and their reliability. If lie detectors measure heart rate, isn’t it possible that someone who is nervous in general can give a false positive? Maybe someone had a lot of caffeine or is excited about something, or maybe they are simply nervous about being given a lie detector test or being in that setting.This question of the reliability of physical signals also affects court hearings themselves. It is possible that a sorrowful looking or unremorseful-looking person can subconsciously affect the way a just makes their ruling. The physical aspects of a defendant can also affect the physical aspects of the jury, for better or for worse, and truly or artificially.

Reliability of Physical Signals

Sympathy from the Jury

“The court adjourned for its morning break, and when it reconvened, Andrea Goodhart was called to the stand. She should have been a sympathetic figure: intelligent, twenty-three years old and pregnant with twins to a man who was facing a prison sentence.” -Weinberg pg 96

Oddly enough, parts of this chapter reminded me of when I read The Apology, Plato’s account of Socrates’s trial, which ended with the famous philosopher being sentenced to death. Near the end of the trial, Socrates made it clear that he didn’t want to play by the court’s rules. Unlike many defendants, Socrates said that he wasn’t going to bring his family to court, showing off his children in the hope of winning some sympathy from the jury. He believed that the speech he gave in his defense should have been enough to convince the jury on its own.
This brings us to Frediani’s trial. Andrea Goodhart was a witness because she could help paint a clearer picture of Frediani as a person, as well as supporting his alibi for the day Helena was assaulted. But you can’t deny that her being a witness could serve another purpose. It tells the jury that Frediani has a pregnant girlfriend waiting for him, enough to maybe make some jurors hesitant to declare him guilty.
Comparing Frediani’s trial to that of Socrates has started me thinking about the ethics involved in these sorts of cases. Socrates wanted to win his case on evidence alone, but Frediani’s defense attorney clearly has no issue with trying to win some sympathy from the jury if it means his client goes free.

Sympathy from the Jury

Real People, Not Characters

Sometimes when reading a story like this, I get so caught up in the plot and action that I forget that these are not just characters but real live people. Every action, word, and depiction is based on a real human person and not just from Weinberg’s imagination. The line that made this most apparent to me was at the very end of Chapter 7.

“Murray stood up: ‘Excuse me, your Honor. Mr. Franklin asked if it would be possible to have the photograph of his wife returned to him.'” (Weinberg, 110)

This absolutely broke my heart. I can almost hear Roger whisper to Murray, embarrassed that he should want to see his wife smiling so badly. This statement made the entire trial seem real. In the middle of it, where it was just back and forth dialogue, it sounded like an episode of a criminal justice show. But even those people are actors. As one could argue that Murray, Collins, and even Frediani are all actors, Roger was not. Especially when he stared at that picture of Helena.

Real People, Not Characters

Emotions in Court

Chapter 7 of Pointing from The Grave was very interesting because it addressed the height of the trail and introduced us to the way in which the jury decided Frediani’s verdict. One thing I thought was very interested was the fact that Weinberg stated that Frediani for the first time exhibited emotions in court. He described him as shocked and in disbelief. I thought this was very interesting because after watching live court cases on TV it is also crucial to see the emotions of the defendants as they sometimes change your mind when thinking if they did or did not commit a crime. It is normal to think that if someone shows disbelief or exhibits sadness they did not do it. While Frediani did seem upset, he was still found guilty. Below is a link to a blog of emotions that are shown in court and how they could be interpreted by the judge or jurors that could ultimately make or break a decision. If Frediani seemed more upset would that have changed minds?

http://www.matternmendozalaw.com/5-reasons-you-must-control-your-emotions-in-court/

Emotions in Court

Delicate Scene of The Crime

From our favorite crimes shows, to our favorite detective novels or movies, one thing that always remains constant, is that a crime scene needs to be handled with immense care and delicacy. In Chapter 6, Helena is brutality murdered, and the scene of the crime is being observed. The book goes into detail describing how Helena’s hands were bagged. It describes her body positioning and various other details about the crime scene that could possibly lead to clues about Helena’s attacker. I began doing a little bit of research about crime scene investigation, and one of the first articles that I found was fairly interesting. It was written by a detective office in West Palm Beach, Florida, and it discusses the importance of body positioning, collecting samples with care, and the need for photographs. Check out the article, it’s pretty cool!

scene of the crime
This picture was taken fromm ‘Scene of the Crime’, a personal photographic project inspired by The NYPD Municipal Archive.

http://www.crime-scene-investigator.net/searchingandexamining.html

Delicate Scene of The Crime

Sample Book Review

Here is a good example of a submitted group book review. Please note that it is not perfect. You also do not need to refer to every chapter in the book. For future reviews, please make sure you use the provided rubric to help you get the most points possible!

Where Good Ideas Come From: A Method to the Madness of Innovation?

In Steven Johnson’s book, Where Good Ideas Come From, readers are able to get a glimpse into the process of creating major innovations. Johnson has already established himself as an insightful and creative author with his other books like The Ghost Map, which looks into the spread and cure of cholera in London. In each of his books, Johnson explains complicated concepts in a novel and simple way, allowing contemporary readers to understand the points he is trying to make. This book is no exception, with each chapter illuminating a different quality of the ideal idea-making process. To prove his points, Johnson uses a myriad of examples of innovation ranging from lone inventors to the exploits of coral reefs to the creation of the very first computers. Through each example in his novel, Johnson shows his idea-making concepts at work in real life.

Continue reading “Sample Book Review”

Sample Book Review