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California newspaper features how Cybergenetics TrueAllele® DNA analysis helps gain convictions
When Victor Vega was accused of stabbing a man multiple times, prosecutors had help putting him behind bars. Using an innovative DNA testing computer program called TrueAllele, investigators were able to differentiate between the victim's blood and Vega's skin cells, both of which were on a knife and sheath found at Vega's residence.
Kevin Miller, director of the Kern Regional Crime Lab, said it is fairly easy to differentiate between two people's DNA on a piece of evidence, but when it is three or more people's DNA it becomes challenging. In Vega's case, TrueAllele helped identify the probability the DNA belonged to him and his victim.
"I've been a DNA case worker for 20-plus years," Miller said. "I've been at the bench, testified, done DNA case work all over country. This is a very innovative approach." Miller's crime lab analyzed the evidence using their own TrueAllele system, prepared a DNA match report, and testified in court about their results.
Kern County Deputy District Attorney Richard Choi prosecuted the Vega case and thought the DNA on the knife was a necessary piece of evidence in the trial. "Without it we couldn't have secured a conviction," Choi said.
The DNA tested can come from bodily fluids or from "touch DNA" such as skin cells on weapons, clothing or countertops. Additionally, the program helps simplify DNA studies in a way jury members can understand to help either tie a defendant to the crime or rule out as a suspect.
Vega was convicted Aug. 22 of attempted murder with premeditation for the benefit of a criminal street gang, as well as other assault and gang charges. He faces 25 years to life in prison.