After charges of alleged sexual assault were leveled at Duke University lacrosse players, the lack of DNA evidence seemed to indicate that the case would be dismissed. Instead, a Durham, N.C., grand jury indicted Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty, both 20, on rape charges, says the Christian Science Monitor. Evidence included a set of plastic fingernails the alleged victim said she lost when she was assaulted. The Monitor says the case is becoming a public gauge of how unimportant DNA evidence can be.
Two-thirds of homicides are solved without DNA evidence. A similar percentage of rape cases also go forward without DNA evidence, said Durham district attorney Mike Nifong. Even without such evidence, one criminologist says getting the case to a jury is the best way for Nifong, who is up for re-election next month, to take the pressure off himself. Grand juries are “a prosecutor’s playpen” as 97 percent of cases result in indictments, says Mike Adams, a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. “Racial tensions in Durham are so intense that I do believe [Mr. Nifong] is under strong pressure to move forward with the case,” he says.