Virgin Islands Court Affirms STRmix Is "Valid, Reliable, and Relevant"

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The Superior Court of the Virgin Islands has ruled that STRmix – the sophisticated forensic software used to resolve mixed DNA profiles previously thought to be too complex to interpret – “is scientifically valid, reliable, and relevant.” The court denied a defense motion for a Daubert hearing on DNA evidence collected by police in a 2014 murder case.

“STRmix™ has been accepted as scientifically reliable in numerous courts, both at the federal and state level," stated Judge Denise M. Francois.

STRmix™ – the sophisticated forensic software used to resolve mixed DNA profiles previously thought to be too complex to interpret – “is scientifically valid, reliable, and relevant,” according to a ruling in the Superior Court of the Virgin Islands.

Denying a defense motion for a Daubert hearing on DNA evidence collected by police in the 2014 murder of Jimmy Malfetti and subsequently analyzed using STRmix™, Superior Court Judge Denise M. Francois ruled that the prosecution had met its burden of showing, by a preponderance of the evidence, that STRmix™ is scientifically reliable.

“Not only has STRmix™ been subjected to several peer-reviewed studies that have produced favorable results, but the FBI has carefully created legitimate standards within its DNA testing laboratories to control STRmix’s™ operation. Though fairly new, STRmix™ has been accepted as scientifically reliable in numerous courts, both at the federal and state level,” Judge Francois stated in her opinion in People of the Virgin Islands v. Mekel Blash (Case No. ST-2015-CR-0000156).    

The Daubert standard 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, published and peer reviewed, and generally accepted in the scientific community, as well as in federal and state courts throughout the U.S.        

The defense had asked the court to disallow DNA evidence from STRmix™. Judge Francois rejected the defense motion, calling the FBI lab analyses credible

Thirty-six U.S. labs now routinely use STRmix™ to resolve DNA profiles, including the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), and multiple 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.

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).

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

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Jessica Tiller
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