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Archive for December, 2007 Monthly Archives

South Korean scientists from Gyeongsang National University and Sunchon National University have cloned three Turkish Angora cats, born January and February, that glow red when exposed to ultraviolet rays and also glow in the dark. They did so by taking skin cells from a cat and inserting the fluorescent gene into them before transplanting the genetically modified cells into eggs. The purpose for doing this is so that these cats could help develop cures for human genetic diseases. The South Korean Science and Technology Ministry claims it was the first time cats with modified genes have been cloned.

Proving that this new technology works means other genes can also be inserted in the course of cloning, paving the way for producing lab cats with genetic diseases, including those of humans, to help develop new treatments.

According to veterinary professor Kong Il-keun of Gyeongsang National University:

“Cats have similar genes to those of humans,” “We can make genetically modified cats that can be used to develop new cures for genetic diseases.”

“People with genetic disorders usually have to receive treatment throughout their lives that is very hard on them,” Kato said.

“If these results can help to make their lives easier, then I think it’s a wonderful thing.”

Another case of wrongful imprisonment, a man is exonerated 28 years later by DNA evidence with the help of The Georgia Innocence Project.

Oct. 4, 1978, Meriwether County, GA An elderly rape victim was asked to pick out her assailant in a lineup and she chose the man in the middle, Jerome White. White was convicted and imprisoned based solely on eyewitness testimony, as have been most cases without hard evidence, historically speaking.

Yet, as state-of-the-art DNA evidence has recently proven, White was not her assailant, another man in the lineup was and his name is James Edward Parham. While White was imprisoned for 12 years, Parham went free… free to rape again, that is. (DNA testing was unavailable at the time of the Aug. 11, 1979, sexual assault in Meriwether County when White was prosecuted.)

As fate would have it, the guilty party, James Edward Parham, happened to be in that same jail on an unrelated arrest at the time of the lineup and was pulled from his cell along with other prisoners for witness ID. The victim had her assailant right in front of her and still did not choose the correct person! Perhaps this was because:

a) The victim, who was 74 years old at the time (now deceased), was asleep on her couch, in the dark, at 4am.

b) When Parham broke into her home, he raped and beat her so severely that her face was left partialy paralyzed.

c) Before he left the scene of the crime, he handed her a pillow and said, “Hold this to your face until I get out.”

d) The woman had prescription eyeglasses but she was not wearing them at the time.

According to an article by Bill Rankin:

On Sept. 28, 1979, the woman was shown a number of photographs, including White’s, and she said she was “almost positive” it was him. When she was presented the lineup of five men at the jail a week later, she said she was positive that White — not Parham standing just a few feet away — was the man who raped her.

“It was just a fluke [Parham] was put in the same lineup with Jerome White,” said Aimee Maxwell, director of the Georgia Innocence Project, which secured White’s exoneration. “This is a tragedy, on many levels.”

Rep. Stephanie Stuckey Benfield (D-Atlanta) told White she will support legislation to compensate him for the time he spent wrongly incarcerated.

Benefield released drafts of proposed legislation that says, beginning July 1, 2011, all photographic or physical lineups must be conducted by officers who have successfully completed eyewitness ID training. The legislation also says if a law enforcement agency does not have written protocols on eyewitness ID by Jan. 1, 2009, the agency can be denied state funding or state-administered federal funding.

Benefield said improved eyewitness ID procedures are necessary because there are only so many cases where DNA evidence can be used to identify the perpetrator.

The GBI supports improved eyewitness ID protocols, spokesman John Bankhead said Thursday. “Nobody in law enforcement wants to arrest the wrong person,” he said.

The accused, Jerome White, was defended at trial by the current U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.). White’ s laywer did not have him take the witness stand at his trial, however, when the jury found him guilty, he told the judge he didn’t do it. He states, “Then, when they put me back in the holding cell, I just cried,”.

In 2004, after receiving a letter from White, while he was in prison, The Georgia Innocence Project investigated the case. The Project eventually learned that hairs linking White to the crime, through microscopic analysis, were still on file at the Meriwether County Clerk’s Office. They pursued the case on behalf of White and evidence showed that this hair did not belong to him, but to Parham, whose DNA was already in a state database.

White, now released, is the seventh man in Georgia cleared by DNA evidence and has stated that he supports passage of new laws setting protocols for officers to follow when gathering eyewitness identification evidence.



The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 12/13/07

http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/stories/2007/12/13/eyewitness_1214_web.html

Written by Meagan Cantrell and based on an “Early Show Exclusive” interview video by Julie Chen dated 11/29/2007:

After 5 years of knowing each other, hometown best friends, Brandy Hersh and Heidi Wickware discovered they’re actually full sisters. Only two years apart in age, these two women, from Springfield, MO, attended the same elementary and middle schools, but became best friends when they stated dating two boys who introduced them to each other.

Although they have uncommon features, among them different eye and hair color, they were interested in, and liked to do, the same things and even finished each other’s sentences. The two became fast friends and were closer than the other longtime friends they had had for years. It was as if they had a special connection… and, in fact, they did!

As it turns out, biological mother, Lisa Russell, got pregnant by her boyfriend with Brandy in 1980. However, they weren’t married and Lisa couldn’t afford to take care of the baby, so she gave Brandy up for adoption. Not long afterward, she married that same man who first got her pregnant and had another child, Heidi, who, while growing up, had no idea that her mom had given birth to another child. However, from the time that she can remember, Brandy had always known that she was adopted. She figured that it really sunk in when she was six years old and her family adopted another child.

Brandy’s adoption was “closed”, so the two mothers never met, or actually knew each other, and had no real information about each other beyond generalities. Eventually, Brandy met her biological mother through Heidi. (They are carbon copies of each other on the video interview!) After Lisa found out Brandy’s birthday and at which hospital she was born, she admitted that she had given up a child for adoption. Heidi went to Brandy and said, “Mom mom gave a baby up for adoption and she thinks it’s you!” Brandy informed her adoptive mother, Debbie Visio, who had some clues as to who the birth mother was at the time. Debbie gave Brandy the only clues that she had about Lisa and it was a match!

After everyone put two and two together, Brandy tried to open up her adoption records. As it turned out, it was going to take years get to through the bureaucracy so the two girls decided to get DNA Sibling Test through Chromosomal Laboratories in Phoenix, AZ. Not too long afterwards they got the tests results back… a 99.999% match!

At the time of the interview the families had just received the results a few days prior. Although it seemed like the news was still sinking in, the sisters were overjoyed, thrilled and full of happy emotions… Best friends actually turned out to be sisters!