New software assists in cases with DNA evidence

KEARNEY, Neb. (KSNB) - New technology allows crime labs to get more information from DNA samples.

A room full of county prosecutors learned about it Wednesday in Kearney at the 32nd annual Nebraska Law Enforcement Attorney's Conference.

A technical analyst with the Nebraska State Patrol's Crime Lab told them about the new program, which changes the way they interpret DNA profiles from crime scenes.

"It's the first time we've really used software to do the heavy math that's involved in DNA interpretation," said Jason Linder, a DNA technical leader with NSP Crime Lab. "Rather than relying solely on a scientist, we can use software that should allow us to come up with more uniform results."

The software also changes how they apply statistics, and report results.

Linder said they can now get DNA profiles from things they couldn't before. He said in theory, one single skin cell could give them a profile.

"It's important the attorneys understand how the results were obtained when we testify as experts at trial to help the jury understand what the results were and what they mean. So they need to understand the basic workings of the system to ask the right questions," Linder said.

NSP officials said the software could potentially help solve cold cases with DNA evidence.

The conference runs over the next few days with more topics that impact the criminal justice system.