New DNA analysis techniques are allowing the FBI to solve more cases faster using samples no bigger than a pinprick. Equally important, jury members steeped in police-procedural TV shows see the genetic evidence they've come to expect. NPR visits the FBI lab in Quantico, Va., where banks of robots process samples at many times the rate of human technicians.
Investigators are able to reopen older cases thanks to techniques like new mitochondrial DNA analysis. "No one was able to perform DNA analysis on them until we came along with our mitochondrial DNA technology," the head of that lab says of the years-old bone and hair samples the procedure helps unlock. Says a forensic examiner, "The power of DNA is just beginning to emerge."