Dna Testing Essay, Research Paper
In two separate incidents in July of 1984, an assailant broke into an apartment, severed phone lines, sexually assaulted a women, and searched through her belongings, taking money and other items.
On August 1, 1984, Ronald Cotton of Burlington, North Carolina was arrested for the rape charges. In January of 1985, Cotton was found guilty of one count of rape and one count of burglary. In November of 1987, Cotton was convicted of both counts of rape and two counts of burglary. An Alamance County Superior Court sentenced Cotton to life plus 54 years.
Cotton was found guilty due to both of the victims making photo identifications and the finding of evidence in Cotton s home that resembled that of what was at the crime scene.
In 1994, two new lawyers for Cotton took over defense and filed a motion for DNA testing of the evidence of semen that was found at the scene.
The samples from one victim were too deteriorated to be conclusive, but the samples from the other victims vaginal swab and underwear were submitted to PCR testing and showed no match to Cotton.
In May of 1995, Cotton was officially cleared of all the charges and was granted to $5,000 as compensation from the state for serving 10.5 years in prison.
DNA testing is a fairly new thing when it comes to Criminal Investigations in court cases. 20 years ago if a person was found guilty of a crime there was no way of knowing if he was actually at the scene or not. Until about ten years ago the first signs of DNA testing were not even around, but thanks to our technological advances we have be able to find some guilty people innocent.
In order to understand what DNA testing is and how it can help people we must know what exactly it is first. Firstly, there are cells which make up all organisms and inside the cells there are chromosomes. Chromosomes, which are made up of DNA, contain all the hereditary information that an individual has. DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) simply contains the blueprints of an organism.
There are many reasons why DNA is useful tool for law enforcement. One important feature of DNA relates to the fact that all individuals have unique DNA. Whether it is found in skin cells, hair cells, semen cells, or blood cells the DNA found in one cell is identical to the DNA found in all other cells in the body. Another crucial characteristic of DNA is that everyone has his or her own unique DNA. Since all humans are alike in that we have hair, arms, and legs it is obvious that most DNA is identical. The key though to identifying individuals through DNA is not through the strands of DNA that have a known function, but rather it is the DNA that has no function. In inside these strands of DNA with no function, are called junk DNA. These are different repetitive DNA patterns, which are unique from person to person. This is why DNA can always be traced back to one person (with the exception of identical twins).
Many people may claim that in a court case DNA testing is unreliable. There is a high chance of getting either incorrect results or fudged results because of the small room for error and the evidence tampering. While there is a chance of error DNA testing is 99 percent accurate.
In conclusion, DNA testing has only been around for a very short time. It has very many important uses in court cases today, which could lead to a guilty or innocent verdict, unlike twenty years ago when we had to rely solely on eyewitness testimony. Everyone should appreciate the use of our technological advances for a more accurate criminal justice system.