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The State of Michigan v Jennifer Heavlin

TrueAllele finds airbag DNA supports defense

Crime On November 11, 2014, Michelle Smith (30) was killed in a car crash. Jennifer Heavlin (32) was accused of operating while intoxicated causing death, and leaving the scene of an accident.
Evidence Only the driver side door was operational after the crash. Two inflated airbags (driver and passenger sides) from Heavlin’s car were swabbed for DNA.
DNA The Michigan State Police crime laboratory developed DNA mixture data from the collected swabs. The lab’s manual interpretation methods could not draw conclusions from the mixtures, due to data complexity.
Match Cybergenetics TrueAllele computer found informative match statistics, connecting Heavlin to the passenger (23.6 quintillion) and driver (346 octillion) side airbags. The computer also found a male person’s DNA on the driver side (727 billion), but not passenger side (1/916) airbag.
TrueAllele These results put Heavlin on both airbags, but the man only on the driver side airbag. These findings supported the defense theory that this man was the actual driver, and Heavlin just a passenger, with both exiting from the driver’s side.
Cybergenetics    On March 9, 2017, Dr. Mark Perlin testified about the potentially exculpatory DNA results. The prosecution presented other evidence that implicated Heavlin.
Outcome The jury found Heavlin guilty as charged.

  • Police arrested 2 for alleged drunk driving in Lincoln Park crash that kills Michelle Smith Attorney Grossman Blog
  • Two drivers charged for operating while intoxicated causing death in Lincoln Park crash The News Herald
  • Fatal drunken driving case in Lincoln Park set for trial The News Herald