STRmix™ Use Leads to Indiana Murder Conviction

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STRmix™ – the sophisticated forensic software used to resolve mixed DNA profiles previously thought to be too complex to interpret – was used to convict Keith Ivory in the June 2016 shooting death of Bethel Smallwood in South Bend, Indiana.

STRmix™ – the sophisticated forensic software used to resolve mixed DNA profiles previously thought to be too complex to interpret – has been used to convict 33-year-old Keith Ivory in the June 2016 shooting death of Bethel Smallwood in South Bend, Indiana.

Smallwood was found deceased with multiple gunshot wounds inside a vehicle parked in front of a South Bend restaurant on June 24, 2016.

While the defense argued that there were no eyewitnesses who could positively identify Ivory as the shooter, the jury found in favor of the prosecution, which had presented security camera footage showing Ivory in the area both before and after the shooting.

The prosecution also relied on the testimony of several jail informants to whom Ivory had allegedly confessed, as well as on the admissibility of DNA evidence produced through the use of STRmix™.

Judge John Marnocha in the St. Joseph Superior Court (Case No. 71-DM153073) rejected a defense motion that claimed STRmix™ had failed to satisfy the Daubert standard for reliability. Daubert is used to assess whether an expert’s scientific testimony is based on reasoning or methodology that is scientifically valid and can properly be applied to the facts at issue. Factors considered in determining the validity of a methodology include whether it has been subjected to rigorous testing and validation; is published and peer reviewed; and generally accepted in the scientific community, as well as in federal and state courts throughout the U.S.        

STRmix™ was developed by John Buckleton, DSc, FRSNZ, and Jo-Anne Bright of the New Zealand Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR), and Duncan Taylor from Forensic Science South Australia (FSSA).

Thirty-six U.S. labs now routinely use STRmix™ to resolve DNA profiles. This includes everything from federal agencies such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and the FBI to state and local agencies. STRmix™ is also in various stages of installation, validation, and training in more than 50 other U.S. labs.

To date, there have been at least 24 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. Currently in use in 14 labs in Australia, New Zealand, England, Scotland, Ireland, and Canada, STRmix™ has been used to interpret DNA evidence in more than 100,000 cases.

A new version of STRmix™, STRmix™ v2.6, recently was introduced. The new version features a user interface that has been completely redeveloped and refreshed, providing users with vastly improved usability and workflow. Version 2.6 also enables a range of contributors to be entered when performing a deconvolution, and any type of stutter to be added and configured.

For more information about STRmix™ visit http://www.strmix.com.

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Jessica Tiller
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