Investigators in Michigan and other states have come to rely heavily on DNA for forensic testing. It is widely used in cold case felonies and in cases in which convicted individuals claim their innocence. However, they have always been stumped when a suspect is one of a set of identical twins. Following international research, U.S. criminal courts may permit use of DNA tests to distinguish between identical twins in the not too distant future.
Many cold cases involving violent crimes like homicide and rape have been solved by using forensic evidence. However, investigators nationwide, including Michigan, can use DNA samples gathered at the crime scenes of various felonies to solve cold cases. Law enforcement in another state recently arrested a suspect in a July 2017 case of a carjacking.
Social media like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter is used more and more to obtain evidence to present at criminal trials. It has long been a source of information to use in civil and family lawsuits, but anyone in Michigan who is facing criminal charges for felonies might be wise to limit activities on social media. At the same time, they might want to discourage friends or family members from posting incriminating images.
DNA technology features in identifying many cold cases across the country, including Michigan. Felonies that could not be solved decades ago might now be reopened, and the availability of advanced DNA methods could throw new light on the unsolved cases. One such a case was recently reported in another state, and a man who police say was sought for 25 years was recently arrested for a murder that happened in 1993.
Every year, the state's Health Care Fraud Division investigates cases that involve the filing of fraudulent claims and embezzlement of benefits. These felonies could lead to significant fines and jail sentences if convictions are obtained. A 50-year-old Michigan woman who faces charges of felony embezzlement is likely exploring her defense options.
By signing the First Step Act into law recently, President Trump brought about the first step in the reform of criminal justice. He did this by altering the guidelines for federal sentences. While Michigan and other states will likely take additional steps, judges will have leeway that they did not previously have when it comes to sentencing convicted criminals, regardless of the severity of the felonies committed.
People in Michigan will no doubt be aware of the use of DNA in criminal investigations. Cold cases and new felonies are resolved by comparing a suspect's DNA profile with evidence to assess the likelihood of his or her involvement in a crime. It could take weeks to get DNA evidence from the crime scene to identification facilities. However, a new rapid DNA program in another state recently helped law enforcement to arrest a suspected burglar and recover stolen property within six days.
In 2014 and 2015, Legionnaires' disease broke out in Mid-Michigan, and several key people, including the chief medical executive of Michigan, Dr. Eden Wells, are accused of failing to prevent the outbreak. She is facing involuntary manslaughter charges. These types of felonies are punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $7,500. About 90 people in Genesee County contracted Legionnaires' Disease, and 12 cases ended in death.
With the significant advances in technology, more and more cold cases are solved based on DNA evidence. In some cases, it might only serve to determine the identification of remains that were recorded as unknown decades ago. However, it could also lead to arrests and convictions of felonies if DNA evidence of perpetrators is discovered and linked to a cold case crime.
The body of a 12-year-old girl was found in a fire pit in 1986, and police had no suspects. Only in 2006, sometime after law enforcement in Michigan and across the country started using DNA to solve felonies, police had a test done on DNA found at the murder scene, but there was no match in existing databases at the time. With advancing technology, open-source ancestry sites became available for people who wanted to learn more about their roots.