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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

DNA, Executions and Casey Anthony's Prosecutor

If you are following the Casey Anthony trial, the tragic affair that ends in the discarded remains of two year old cherub Caylee Anthony, you have seen prosecutor Jeff Ashton at work.

Did you know he is credited with being the first prosecutor in the United States to use forensic DNA profiling in a criminal trial? It was 1988 and DNA was far from being the solid science we know and love today. It was still considered mumbo-jumbo by many, many people. Here is an archival New York Times article about new-fangled DNA, "young Jeff Ashton," and the beginning of a criminal court revolution.

Are you a fan of novelist Linda Fairstein? She is in this NYT article, too, still a NY prosecutor and hot on the trail of the incipient DNA juggernaut.

A few months later, in 1988, Ricky Bible snatched a little girl on her bike in Flagstaff, Arizona, a mountain town where her family was vacationing. She did not survive his attack. Ricky Bible became the first Arizona conviction based on DNA profiling. I remember the controversy at the time. This week Richard Bible has finally received an execution date. The little girl would have been 32 this year, but remains forever a third grader in the hearts of her loved ones.

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