Home > Legal Aspects > Famous Trials and DNA Testing

Famous Trials and DNA Testing

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 15 Feb 2015 | comments*Discuss
 
Famous Trials And Dna Testing

DNA testing is an intriguing information technology in itself but when coupled with celebrities and famous, highly publicised trials, it becomes even more compelling. While many of us pay little attention to the concept of DNA testing when it doesn't seem directly relevant to our lives, DNA testing becomes far more significant and meaningful when it links up to famous individuals and controversial trials. Some of the famous trials involving DNA have been notably significant in that they have freed convicted persons after years spent in prison. Were in not for DNA evidence, these men would still likely be convicted today - a depressing thought given their personal struggles, the impact on their families and also the reality of the true criminal being free in the world.

Ronald Cotton

During the mid-1980s, a college student named Jennifer Thompson testified against a man named Ronald Cotton. She cited that he had raped her, which ultimately resulted in the jury verdict of a conviction for Cotton. He was sentenced to life in prison but after eleven years in jail, he was released following DNA evidence from the crime scene. Following Cotton's release, Thompson was emotionally distressed and contacted Cotton, which has led to some healing of wounds and a friendship.

Earl Washington Jr.

In the early 1980s, Earl Washington Jr. received the death sentence for the rape and murder of Rebecca Lynn Williams. With just over a week before his execution, he was given a stay and in 1993, DNA testing offered some doubt regarding whether he was truly guilty. At that time his death sentence was reduced to life in prison. Eventually, however, advanced DNA testing was performed and he was cleared of the crime and pardoned in 2000.

O.J. Simpson

The mid-1990s O.J. Simpson trial is one of the most publicised murder trials that involved DNA evidence. In fact, it was a trial that put DNA testing into the limelight and provided education and publicity on this technology. Although DNA evidence did suggest Simpson was linked to the murders of his ex-wife and her friend, he was ultimately acquitted.

Frank Lee Smith

Frank Lee Smith was on death row in the United States for fourteen years for a murder in 1985 of an eight-year old girl. Through DNA testing, he was proven innocent of the murder although sadly, he died of cancer nearly a year before he was officially proven innocent of the charges. The DNA testing showed that his DNA did not match the DNA that was found on the girl's body. His case did, however, set precedent in that the governor decided to support DNA testing for death row inmates who cited their innocence.

We are fortunate to have DNA testing today and that it can be used not only to analyse evidence in post-conviction instances, but also that it can prevent the sad ending of years spent in jail when a person is actually innocent. The cases described here are a very sad but important example of the way that DNA has revolutionised the criminal justice system and made the system far more accurate and reliable.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
After a 27 year battle trying to get local enforcement agency and prosecutors to reopen the case of the murder and rape of Monica Sanders, we are going to seek court order to exhume body for more DNA evidence to go along with the new evidence my wife and i have gathered over the last 15 months.We know by fact that the first trial was "controlled" we are seeking advice, someone to look at our case, and help fund the new case so Monica Sanders can have her day in court along with her Justice to the suspects.I have a summary of the case which we would be glad to send anyone interested in helping.DNA is so much more advanced then in 1988 justice can and will be served. Anyone who reads this and is willing to help Thank You.With local assistance we HAVE to look else where.
Trace - 15-Feb-15 @ 8:08 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Rebekka
    Re: DNA and Air Crash Victims
    How does one obtain dna for ancestral testing from a body that's been embalmed? They are holding the body while I find out. Can you…
    26 April 2019
  • Nikita
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    Hello, I just saw your tests online. Great!! I am wondering my mother died about 20 years ago. I have 1/2 of her ashes. I am trying to find…
    29 March 2019
  • Morgz
    Re: An Overview of DNA Functions
    GO CHECK OUT MY NEW CLICKBAIT FORTNITE CHANNEL!!! MORGZCLICKBAITY
    26 March 2019
  • Shegzysnoop
    Re: Using DNA and for Immigration Purposes
    My dna is part of the document that was receive by the consulate from my lawyer in Chicago but surprisingly afelter…
    20 March 2019
  • yoda gaming
    Re: An Overview of DNA Functions
    game i must 3 weeks left to live i have took the kids she has
    19 March 2019
  • Lannette
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    My son was killed n 2018 and was buried can or shall I say could we get a good enough DNA to see if a child who's going on 10 next month…
    14 March 2019
  • Emilina C.
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    My uncle died in March 2017 and there is a probable theory that he was murdered by his wife due to the fact that his reason for being sent to…
    14 March 2019
  • lora
    Re: Using DNA and for Immigration Purposes
    my husband is petioning me, we went our different ways but we werent divorced , i had my son while i was married but…
    14 March 2019
  • Jem
    Re: DNA and Disease Prediction
    Nice work it really helped me with the big project I'm doing in May.
    11 March 2019
  • Brat
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    My daughters father just died yesterday he hasn't been buried or cremated is there any way that we could still do a DNA test to prove he is…
    9 March 2019