New York State Supreme Court Rules STRmix™ Use Is Admissible

A New York court has ruled that STRmix™ – the sophisticated forensic software used to resolve mixed DNA profiles previously thought to be too complex to interpret – is generally accepted in the relevant scientific and legal communities.

In denying a defense motion in People v. Terrance Yates (Indictment No. 10663-2016) to preclude DNA evidence obtained through the use of STRmix™, New York State Supreme Court Judge Sharon D. Hudson cited numerous precedents regarding the admissibility of novel scientific theory in ruling, “Courts have nearly universally admitted the results of these genotyping software programs over objection in Frye/Daubert litigation.”

The Frye and Daubert standards require that a new or novel scientific technique must be based on scientific principles or procedures which have been sufficiently established and generally accepted in the relevant scientific community. Moreover, the particular evidence derived from the scientific technique and used in an individual case must have a foundation that is scientifically reliable.

In the current case, the defendant was charged with second degree criminal possession of a weapon and other related charges. The defendant was in possession of a loaded handgun in the vestibule of a residential building in Brooklyn, NY.

Police swabbed the firearm in question for DNA evidence and the swabs were then submitted to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for DNA testing. A comparison of the defendant’s DNA profile to the “slide grooves, slide release, hammer” mixture on the firearm led the STRmix™ analysis to show that the DNA was approximately 221,0000 times more probable if the sample originated from the defendant and two unknown persons than if it originated from three unknown persons.

The case marks at least the 24th successful admissibility hearing for STRmix™ in the U.S., while DNA evidence interpreted with STRmix™ has been successfully used in numerous court cases.

STRmix™ is now being routinely used to resolve DNA profiles by 36 U.S. forensic labs, including the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). STRmix™ is also in various stages of installation, validation, and training in more than 50 other U.S. labs.

Internationally, STRmix™ has been used to interpret DNA evidence in more than 100,000 cases since 2012. It is currently being used in forensic labs in Australia, New Zealand, England, Scotland, Ireland, Finland, Dubai, and Canada. The code for three versions of the software has now been independently examined and in all cases admitted.

STRmix™ LTD introduced a new version of the software, STRmix™ v2.6, in August 2018. The new version features a user interface that has been completely redeveloped and refreshed, providing users with vastly improved usability and workflow. Version 2.6 also enables a range of contributors to be entered when performing a deconvolution, and any type of stutter to be added and configured.

STRmix™ was developed by John Buckleton, DSc, FRSNZ, and Jo-Anne Bright of the New Zealand Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR), and Duncan Taylor from Forensic Science South Australia (FSSA).

For more information about STRmix™ visit www.strmix.com.

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