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DNA test may tell which twin committed the felonies

| Mar 13, 2019 | Felonies |

Investigators in Michigan and other states have come to rely heavily on DNA for forensic testing. It is widely used in cold case felonies and in cases in which convicted individuals claim their innocence. However, they have always been stumped when a suspect is one of a set of identical twins. Following international research, U.S. criminal courts may permit use of DNA tests to distinguish between identical twins in the not too distant future.

According to the popular science writer, Carl Zimmer, scientists are now able to identify the genetic mutations in the DNA of identical twins in order to tell them apart. He notes that rape cases in Michigan and another state were stalled when forensic scientists could not distinguish between identical twins. However, using this new DNA test to admit evidence in court was unsuccessful because the judge determined that insufficient evidence existed to assess whether the testing to meet existing standards.

Before the courts accept scientific evidence, the technique needs extensive testing. Peer reviews, publication, and a clear indication of the margin of error are required. Only after replicating the tests for many sets of identical twins in several more laboratories will judges in U.S. criminal courts find them reliable enough to be accepted as evidence.

As it stands now, it does not appear that this specific test will meet the rigorous requirements of Michigan courts; it remains to be seen if that will change in the future. Michigan criminal defense attorneys will certainly follow the issue. In the meantime, anyone who is a suspect in an investigation that involves felonies in Michigan can make sure their legal rights are protected by retaining the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney.