Murder Case Puts New DNA Test on Trial
A form of DNA testing used to identify the remains of American soldiers and Russian Czar Nicholas II has been introduced as evidence in a murder trial for the first time in a U.S. court.
Unlike nuclear DNA, which is genetic material from a cell’s nucleus, mitochondrial DNA can be found in hair, bones or teeth. The evidence is believed to be more reliable and less vulnerable to contamination.
In the murder trial, Paul Ware, 27, is charged with the rape and murder of a 4-year-old girl. Physical evidence included hairs found on the victim that were matched to Ware using mitochondrial DNA.
“This is really the first test in a U.S. criminal case,” said Doug Deedrick, an FBI crime lab special agent who gave DNA testimony for prosecutors in the O.J. Simpson murder trial. “Now, the door is open. It will be accepted as a technology and validated as a tool to help solve crimes.”
Deedrick said the Ware case was the first the FBI accepted since establishing the technology at its lab in June.
Tim Kupferschmid, senior DNA analyst for the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, said the technique’s use in the criminal case “does reinforce its validity.”
But William Shields, a DNA expert from Syracuse, N.Y., said more validation studies are needed.
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