Michigan Case Affirms STRmix™ Reliability

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Rejecting defense objections, a Michigan court is the latest to rule that STRmix™ – a sophisticated forensic software used to resolve mixed DNA profiles previously thought to be unresolvable – has met the Daubert criteria for rigorous testing and validation, peer review, and general acceptance in the scientific community.

Rejecting defense objections, a Michigan court has ruled that STRmix™ – a sophisticated forensic software used to resolve mixed DNA profiles previously thought to be unresolvable – satisfies the Daubert criteria for reliability.

The decision marks the second time in recent months that a Michigan court has decided that STRmix™ met all Daubert considerations – i.e., it has been subjected to rigorous testing and validated; it has been published and peer reviewed; and it has been generally accepted in the scientific community, as well as in federal and state courts throughout the U.S.        

In the current case (State of Michigan v. Marlon Anthony Burns, Case No. 16-39193-FC), the defendant was accused of multiple counts of criminal sexual conduct (CSC). The alleged victim reported that the defendant had sucked on her toes while sexually assaulting her. Using STRmix™ to analyze swabs of her toes taken when the CSC kit was done, the Michigan State Police Laboratory concluded “there is very strong support for the defendant’s inclusion.”

John Buckleton of the New Zealand Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) – who developed STRmix™ in collaboration with ESR’s Jo-Anne Bright and Duncan Taylor from Forensic Science South Australia (FSSA) – testified in the case, asserting the developmental validation and peer review of STRmix™, as well as its growing use in forensic laboratories.

Twenty-four U.S. labs are now using STRmix™, while another 70 U.S. labs are at various stages of installation, validation, and training. STRmix™ is being used by numerous local, state, and federal agencies, including the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory (USACIL), the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Michigan State Police, Texas Department of Public Safety, and the California Department of Justice.

“STRmix™ provides numerous advantages over historical methods of DNA profile analysis and greater statistical power for estimating evidentiary weight, all of which can be used reliably in human identification testing,” notes Buckleton.

ESR recently launched an upgraded version of STRmix™, STRmix™ v2.5, after a full year of technical development and testing. STRmix™ v2.5 contains a number of powerful new features designed to significantly improve functionality, speed, and ease of use.

“Coming on the heels of the FBI’s validation of STRmix™ for use on mixtures of up to five persons and recent cases in Florida, Texas, and Michigan affirming the use of STRmix™, this case offers continued proof that STRmix™ is sufficiently robust for implementation in forensic laboratories,” Buckleton concludes.
To date, there have been at least 13 successful admissibility hearings for STRmix™ in the U.S., while DNA evidence interpreted with STRmix™ has been successfully used in numerous court cases.

Internationally, STRmix™ has been used in casework since 2012, and has been used to interpret DNA evidence in thousands of cases. It is currently in use in labs in Australia, New Zealand, England, Scotland, Ireland, and Canada.

For more information about STRmix™ visit http://www.esr.cri.nz/ or http://strmix.esr.cri.nz/.

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Ray Weiss
Weiss PR, Inc.
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