Prosecutors are hailing new DNA technology that helped secure two convictions in a string of recent robberies.
The new True Allele casework system made its debut in a Kern County courtroom this month.
Charles Lawton and Dupree Langston might have gotten away with robbing a Check Advance Store if they hadn't planted a bare hand on a countertop to vault over.
In a fraction of a second, Langston's sweaty palm touched the counter. It transfered a minute amount of DNA that would lead to his conviction.
"And, so the technicians went back to that very spot and did some swabs for DNA," said Scott Spielman, Assistant District Attorney.
Before, the crime lab might have struggled to do anything with evidence like this: only a trace amount of DNA and contamination from other people who touched the same counter.
"That used to be the biggest problem, when you had a mixture of profiles. And, so you couldn't pull out who was in there," said Spielman.
"In those cases we'd have to say the DNA profiles were inconclusive in our analysis. With True Allele, we don't have to say that any longer," said Kevin Miller, Director, Kern Regional Crime Lab.
True Allele is high-powered computer software that uses mathematical formulas to sort through contaminated evidence.
This is the first use of True Allele west of the Mississippi.
"It can then pinpoint with a high level of confidence whether a particular person's DNA was present at the scene of a crime."
Even if they barely brushed an item.
"We're talking about touch DNA, DNA that has been out in the field for a while and may be degraded. We're talking about missing persons cases," said Miller.
It's a powerful tool with a caveat.
"DNA, it is time consuming and it is expensive, but we can't do it for every case that we would like to," said Spielman.
In all, Lawton and Langston were convicted of eight robberies in a five-week crime spree, including a holdup at a Max Muscle store in 2011 where the owner shot back.
Others victims said they were brutalized, some were even forced to disrobe at gunpoint.
Now that the technology has been proven in court, the crime lab says you can expect to see more of it.
"With newer technologies we're able to give more definitive answers," said Miller.
Langston and Lawton are set to be sentenced April 5th.
They face about 70 years in state prison.
The new DNA software was paid for with a $100,000 grant from the National Institute of Justice.