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The Champion

May 2018 , Page 12 

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Mixing It Up: Legal Challenges to Probabilistic Genotyping Programs for DNA Mixture Analysis

By Jessica Goldthwaite, Clinton Hughes, and Richard Torres

DNA testing might be considered the gold standard of forensic science, but it has an Achilles heel. It is called complex mixture analysis. Crime labs have pushed the bounds of forensic DNA analysis by going after increasingly challenging DNA samples, often from touched items of evidence such as a gun or a steering wheel or clothing. As a result, labs often encounter mixtures of three, four or even more contributors, making the true perpetrator of the crime difficult to isolate. The DNA in these crime scene samples may be present in very low amounts or can be degraded by elements like sunlight, moisture, and bacteria.

Methods that might be perfectly appropriate for interpreting simple DNA samples can produce unreliable results when applied to complex mixtures. Facing a complicated alphabet soup of a DNA mixture sample, a crime lab used to have a choice: either call the mixture unsuitable for comparison or employ a statistic like the “combined probability of inclusion” that leading scient

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