The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is a leader in the use of advanced forensic sciences, particularly DNA, to solve and prevent crime. There has been no scientific advancement more important than DNA in convicting the guilty, and exonerating the innocent.
In May 2010, DA Vance created the Forensic Sciences/Cold Case Unit, to focus on using forensic science to enhance the quality of our investigations and prosecutions in a manner that comports with the highest standards in the field. The Unit serves in an advisory capacity to the Trial Division on all cases that involve forensic science, regardless of the nature and severity of the charges, and is designed to ensure that all have access to the tools needed to prosecute the variety of cases that involve forensic scientific evidence. Furthermore, the Unit provides training to ADAs on forensic science and the handling of cold cases to ensure that our Office continues to use the most sophisticated forensic evidence in prosecutions.
Every crime victim deserves justice, and in the Fall of 2010 the Unit began the systematic review of every unsolved homicide in Manhattan since the 1970s. This cold case review of more than 3,000 homicides will determine whether the cases can be solved using state-of-the-art forensic testing techniques.
In January, the Office announced its first Cold Case murder indictment under the new program – the murders of two women in the 1970s.
In addition, DA Vance is working with our partners in state government to pass legislation that would require DNA collection upon conviction for all DNA Crimes. DNA is one of the most reliable and cost-effective tools that we have in law enforcement. DNA testing is a critical tool routinely used in sexual assault evidence kits, and the testing of evidence in homicides, property crimes, bias and hate crimes, gun cases, auto thefts, and terrorist threats. The Office has a history of obtaining indictments of DNA profiles, which stop the clock on statutes of limitation and allow the Office to prosecute offenders who are not caught for years – or even decades.