Sunday, February 28, 2021

Judge tosses out two types of DNA testing

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Michael Whyte
Crime Scene Officer and Fingerprint Expert with over 7 years experience in Crime Scene Investigation and Latent Print Analysis. The opinions or assertions contained on this site are the private views of the author and are not to be construed as those of any professional organisation or policing body.
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A Brooklyn judge has stirred up controversy by tossing out two types of DNA proof routinely applied in criminal circumstances all through the city.

Judge Mark Dwyer

Justice Mark Dwyer has thrown out the results of low copy number DNA testing, which generates profiles from minuscule samples, and Forensic Statistical Tool, a program made by the Workplace of the Chief Healthcare Examiner’s forensic biology lab that scores the chances a person’s DNA is portion of a complex sample.

The practices have helped prosecutors all through the city win convictions and have also been applied to exonerate innocent defendants, sources say.

In barring the evidence in two Brooklyn Supreme Court situations, Dwyer decided the procedures are not usually accepted in forensic science and do not have a spot in the courtroom.

“To have a method that is so controversial that the community of scientists who are professionals in the field can’t agree on it and then to throw it in front of a lay jury and count on them to be capable to make sense of it, is just the opposite of what the ‘Frye standard’ is all about,” Dwyer said, referring to low copy quantity testing and case law on admissibility.

He added that “the descending chorus” opposed to the city-developed Forensic Statistical Tool “was strong enough that I can’t say the Frye test has been satisfied,” he added.

The judge, who is broadly respected and served as retired Manhattan District Lawyer Robert Morgenthau’s prime deputy, noted that his opinion, delivered orally at a Nov. 7 hearing “will hardly be the final word.”

His decision is expected to be on the table again Monday soon after the Brooklyn District Attorney Office’s asked to present previously unavailable information and facts that is “directly relevant.”

Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson decried the ruling as a step backward in the “CSI” age of crime-fighting, saying the two methods “are instrumental in prosecuting homicides and sexual assaults, and have helped to exonerate men and women who have been wrongfully convicted.”

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson said the scientific community has embraced the two types of DNA testing. (BRYAN PACE/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

The DA added that “the relevant scientific neighborhood has already embraced such technologies.”

A spokesman for Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr. stated low copy number testing “has assisted with the prosecution of dangerous criminals and, just as importantly, the exoneration of these located to be innocent.”

“Removing it as a tool for police and prosecutors would lead to important setbacks in 21st century proof-gathering strategies,” stated the spokesman, Patrick Muncie.

The Legal Aid Society’s DNA team, which brought the challenge, argued that each types of proof are unreliable and the margins of error are too high.

Their win came after a joint hearing in the instances of Andrew Peaks and Jaquan Collins, charged in unconnected violent felonies in Brooklyn.

Prosecutors say Peaks, 29, choked, sexually abused and robbed a lady in the hallway of her apartment constructing in July 2010.

When she dropped her purse in the frightening ordeal, Peaks scooped it up and left a baseball cap behind, the DA stated.

The hat stored DNA samples that had been “suitable for direct comparison only” by means of Forensic Statistical Tool analysis that illustrated the likelihood Peaks –charged in a comparable violent attack on one more lady weeks later — was a significant male donor.

Collins, 33, an accused gunman, allegedly left behind a compact amount of DNA on a bike he rode in the course of a non-fatal shooting in August 2010.

The sample, which was low copy quantity tested, was identified to be “consistent” with Collins’s DNA profile.

Prior to Dwyer’s ruling, city judges have stated the two strategies are admissible. Higher courts are expected to examine the problems and judges at Dwyer’s level are not bound by the ruling.

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