TrueAllele solves uninterpretable DNA in mother and daughter double homicide

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February 2017 Newsletter


February 2017

TrueAllele® Cases

David Black
David Black gets two consecutive life sentences
Virginia man fatally stabbed his wife in her home

In 2015, David Black fatally stabbed psychologist Bonnie Black, his estranged wife, in her Arlington home as their young children slept nearby. Cybergenetics Dr. Mark Perlin testified at the November trial about DNA evidence. TrueAllele computing connected the killer to mixed DNA left on a bedroom light switch. The jury convicted Black of first-degree murder. 
On February 9, the judge sentenced Black to two consecutive life sentences. "Unfortunately nothing can bring Bonnie Black back to her loving family, colleagues and friends," said Arlington County Deputy Chief Daniel J. Murray, "but it is our fervent hope that we have been able to provide them with some closure." 

Robert Xie
Robert Xie gets five consecutive life sentences
Australia killer took the lives of his five relatives

In 2009, Robert Xie killed his brother-in-law Min Lin, Min's wife Lily, their two sons Henry (12) and Terry (9), and Lily's sister Irene. Cybergenetics Dr. Mark Perlin testified, twice giving evidence in Sydney's historic Supreme Courthouse. TrueAllele computing separated a DNA mixture containing four relatives, connecting Xie to the quintuple homicide. A jury convicted Xie of all five murders. 
On February 13, Justice Elizabeth Fullerton sentenced Xie to five life sentences. Justice Fullerton said life sentences were reserved for the most heinous of crimes and this case was "heinous in the extreme." Detective Chief Inspector Chris Olen said, "The five sentences of life handed down in the Supreme Court of NSW represent justice for Min, Lily, Irene, Henry and Terry Lin."

Dante Washington gets 36 to 72 years in state prison
Justice for Pennsylvania cabbie almost killed by shooter

Ann & Eugene Phillips
In 2014, cab driver Eugene Phillips was shot and robbed by passenger Dante Washington. In December, Cybergenetics Dr. Mark Perlin testified about DNA mixture evidence linking the defendant to the shooting. A Lycoming County jury found Washington guilty of attempted homicide. On February 14, Washington was sentenced to 36 to 72 years. 
The victim's wife Ann Phillips said, "We're happy that this nightmare is finally over. I never doubted his identification of the shooter, but we were both very worried. We are so thankful that Cybergenetics was part of it. I have no doubt that Dr. Perlin's testimony was vital to the conviction."

AAFS Presentations

When DNA is not enough
Exoneration by computer interpretation    
On Thursday, February 16, Professor Fran Watson (Indiana University McKinney Law School, Wrongful Conviction Clinic) and Cybergenetics Dr. Mark Perlin spoke about the TrueAllele exonerations of Darryl Pinkins and Roosevelt Glenn. Exculpatory DNA evidence data was available over fifteen years ago. But the common failure to fully interpret DNA data cost Pinkins fifteen extra years in prison.   

On the threshold of injustice
Manipulating DNA evidence

On Friday, February 17, defense attorney Clinton Hughes (Legal Aid Society of New York City) and Cybergenetics Dr. Mark Perlin spoke about the dangers of using subjective DNA methods beyond their tested limits. When analysts are "forced to pick and choose data" and "input parameters" for their software, and lack validation guidance, their scientific results may be unreliable.   

Error in the likelihood ratio
False match probability

On Friday, February 17, Cybergenetics Dr. Mark Perlin spoke about customizing error rate to DNA evidence.  A likelihood ratio (LR) summarizes evidence in a match statistic. Also important is the LR error - the chance of falsely identifying an innocent person at that LR level. His talk introduced false match probability (FMP) error, and showed how to rapidly calculate FMP.  

Becca Byers
Communication Specialist

Twitter: @cybgen
LinkedIn: Cybergenetics