The University of Illinois Springfield’s Downstate Innocence Project held a forensic seminar on cutting edge methods of DNA testing on Wednesday, October 28, 2009 in the Brookens Auditorium.
Timothy Masters, a Colorado man who was wrongly convicted of murder and freed from prison by Touch DNA technology spoke at the event. Touch DNA allows investigators to find DNA on nearly anything a person touches by comparing skin epithelial cells. In Master’s case all three DNA profiles tested matched another suspect in the original investigation.
"The Touch DNA revolution in the United States has really been started by the case of Timothy Masters," said Larry Golden, Co-Director of the Downstate Innocence Project.
Touch DNA was pioneered over a decade ago by forensic scientists Richard and Selma Eikelenboom. The pair both work for the Netherlands Forensic Institute Department of Biology and traveled to UIS to speak at the Innocence Project seminar.
A crew from the CBS crime show 48 Hours Mystery also came to campus to interview the international experts in DNA. Master’s case has been featured on the program and now investigators are interested in using Touch DNA in similar cases around the country.
The UIS Downstate Innocence Project is looking to use the Touch DNA technology on at least two cases here in Illinois. Golden believes the method could prove helpful in testing evidence from the 1989 Sangamon County murder of Melissa Koontz. The project is working to overturn the conviction of Thomas McMillen.
For more information on the Innocence Project visit: http://cspl.uis.edu/ILLAPS/Service/DownstateIllinoisInnocenceProject/index.htm