Interesting DNA article (from Orphan)

Discussion in 'Justice for JonBenet Discussion - Public Forum' started by Elle, Oct 23, 2006.

  1. Elle

    Elle Member

    I received this interesting DNA article from Orphan, who posted on the JonBenét boards a few years back.

    As if the JBR case isn't complicated enough already, now we have this to contend with. I suppose this new finding blows the RST's "Caucasion DNA" argument outta the water. (Orphan)




    </td><td>UK case set key precedent


    </td><td>Courts leery about allowing new tests


    A DNA match is all you need to win a court case, right? Not so fast. Some feel one in a billion doesn't literally mean one in a billion and argue DNA may have sent innocent people to jail

    When you hear the letters DNA in a court case, you usually think it's a slam dunk for either the defence or the Crown.

    Some aren't so certain that is always the case, however.

    Some lawyers and experts are questioning the belief that DNA profiles are unique and can only belong to one person.

    When Arizona State Scientific Analysis Bureau workers reported in 2001 that two convicts shared very similar DNA profiles, they didn't know they were opening a legal can of worms and a debate over the uniqueness of DNA profiles. The two men, one African- American, the other caucasian, were unrelated, with very different dates of birth and different last names.

    They were not an exact DNA match, as would be expected with identical twins, but they shared almost 70% of the DNA markers that forensic scientists check when they try to determine identity. Nine out of the 13 spots (scientists call them loci) analyzed on the offenders' chromosome were the same.

    Their shared DNA was thought to be statistically unlikely.

    "We found it interesting," Randal Johnson, the supervising criminalist of the bureau's DNA section, later told an Arizona court of the reasons for reporting the finding.

    Turns out, bureau statisticians said such matching profiles could be expected if you searched the database.

    DNA databanks around the world are growing and being used to solve crimes. Canada's Convicted Offender Index (COI) has 101,000 DNA profiles.

    Matching those profiles to crime scene DNA -- called cold hit matches -- has solved crimes. Crown prosecutors have used the evidence on everything from break and enters to sex assaults to murders. Take that match, add expert testimony about the astronomical odds of two people sharing the same profile and you're well on your way to a conviction.

    After Arizona, however, DNA is getting a closer look.

    "I really have a strong belief that someone already has been, or will be, convicted of a very serious crime, who is actually innocent because of a false cold hit match from a databank," says Bicka Barlow, a public defender in San Francisco.

    "Given what we are seeing in Arizona, it's only a matter of time," she said.

    Barlow has decided to open that can of worms. She's part of a legal team representing a man facing a cold hit prosecution. Her team obtained a subpoena to force Arizona to turn over a match report in 2005.

    By then, the number of matches had grown from one pair out of 20,000 profiles to 144 matching offender profiles out of 65,000.

    The State of Arizona, taking heat from the FBI over the disclosure of the matches, slapped Barlow with a court order. It barred her from releasing the findings on the Internet. The Sun obtained the information through other sources who had already obtained copies of the Arizona match report.

    "There have been so many people charged with crimes from 30 years ago and the witnesses are all dead. The police are gone, the coroners who did the autopsies are gone ... all they have is a DNA match," Barlow says.

    She says jurors should be told about the Arizona findings -- and elsewhere -- to put match statistics into perspective. Often, juries are told the odds of more than one person matching a crime scene profile are one in a trillion or more.

    Indeed, one of the first matching profiles detected by the Arizona lab was calculated to have a statistical rareness of one in 2.1 billion. But just because something is rare doesn't mean it won't happen more than once, says one expert.

    "The amount of sharing is not unexpected if you do the statistics," says Dr. George Carmody, a Carleton University biology progressor and a member of Canada's National DNA Databank Advisory Committee.

    Carmody says the Arizona findings have little to say about the uniqueness of DNA profiles found at crime scenes and the infinitesimal likelihood that a match with a police suspect is a pure coincidence.


    The odds that any two people will share a genetic profile is a different question entirely, he says. He likens it to a probability experiment called the birthday game. Take any group of 23 people. The odds are better than 50% that two people will share the same birthday. But if you were just to select a random person off the street, the odds are one in 365 that you will find someone who shares your birthday.

    The difference, Carmody says, is that in one set of odds any birthday will do. In the other set, you are looking for a particular birthday.

    Not everyone shares Carmody's opinion.

    Larry Mueller, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of California, says it's been well demonstrated that Arizona's database has more matches than would be expected in a group of 65,000 unrelated people.

    Some academics have tackled the problem of the Arizona matches by suggesting the matching offenders are related. Based on current statistical assumptions, he says, some 1,500 pairs of relatives would explain the matches. But there are different types of matches.

    For example, to explain the 20 pairs of 10-loci matches, there would have to be 3,000 pairs of relatives in the databank. Bottom line: More research is needed to figure out what's going on in the Arizona DNA databank.

    But Arizona authorities are reluctant to open up the database to outside researchers, citing privacy concerns and contractual obligations with the FBI.


    But even without a proper explanation, the findings in Arizona could give people a better handle on the statistics surrounding DNA evidence, Mueller says.

    "Our ... idea of what one in 100 billion means is not very good. In fact, things that are that rare, you can see in a population of just 65,000."

    Mueller says there is a bigger question. Is the data on which the statistics are based sufficient to make claims about how frequently a genetic profile might appear?

    We all assume DNA is irrefutable evidence for one side or the other. Barlow says she thinks people in the forensic science community don't want to examine how we compare DNA for fear its credibility will be damaged.

    "I think that's what the FBI and states are afraid of. They know they have people in (their databases) who match."



    - Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA): The chemical inside the nucleus of a cell that carries the genetic instructions for making living organisms.

    - locus: The place on a chromosome where a specific gene is located, a kind of address for the gene. The plural is "loci."

    - Allele: One of the variant forms of a gene at a particular locus, on a chromosome. Different alleles produce variation in inherited characteristics such as hair colour or blood type.

    - Chromosome: One of the threadlike "packages" of genes and other DNA in the nucleus of a cell. Different kinds of organisms have different numbers of chromosomes. Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes, 46 in all: 44 autosomes and two sex chromosomes. Each parent contributes one chromosome to each pair, so children get half of their chromosomes from their mothers and half from their fathers.

    - Combined DNA Index System (CODIS): A database of offender and crime scene DNA profiles run by the FBI and states which allows crime labs to exchange and compare DNA profiles electronically, thereby linking crimes to each other and to convicted offenders.

    - Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism (RFLP) analysis: The first method used by forensic scientists to analyze DNA evidence and link it to an accused person. The use of RFLP as a forensic tool was pioneered by Sir Alec Jeffries and his team of researchers in the UK in the mid 1980s. - Short tandem repeat (STR) analysis: The current method used by most modern forensic labs to analyze DNA samples for identification purposes. <!-- Next and Previous stories -->
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 24, 2006
  2. Why_Nut

    Why_Nut FFJ Senior Member

    Intruder theorists will not touch this article. It speaks truth and truth does not serve their ends.
  3. Spade

    Spade Member

    Proving once again that linwad can't handle the truth.
  4. Jayelles

    Jayelles Alert Viewer in Scotland

    Hey Elle - is this an eye test??? :p
  5. Show Me

    Show Me FFJ Senior Member

    From the article...

    "Our ... idea of what one in 100 billion means is not very good. In fact, things that are that rare, you can see in a population of just 65,000."

    I think you are right WhyNut.
    Which makes the dna panty evidence useless. Sooooooo we are back to the hard evidence like the ransom note and motive and opportunity.

    Stuff the Boulder DA's office probably won't investigate since it tends to lead back to their boss John Ramsey.
  6. JoeJame

    JoeJame member

    My mother in law was just telling me the other day about a program she seen on TLC...Medical Mysteries I believe. But anyways apparently a kid or two was sick or something along those lines and it showed that their DNA did not match their parents in any way or any one close to them. I did not get to see it. Does anyone know what I'm talking about? I can just remember really can't trust DNA then........
  7. Elle

    Elle Member

    Don't think so, Jay! :) I'm waiting for a post from Watching You. She truly is very knowledgeable in the field of DNA, having worked with an expert in DNA. I was a bit shook up when I read this article, because I am still trying to understand it. :)
  8. Watching You

    Watching You Superior Bee Admin

    I'm afraid I can't take any credit, Elle. I get all my information from my expert.

    I'm actually surprised it's taken so long for someone to question the tactics some have used to get convictions with DNA. Do you recall my saying (and saying and saying) that the DNA found in JBR's underwear and allegedly submitted to and accepted by CODIS will NEVER convict anyone? It won't, because it can't. It's sort of like the RST continued reference to the fingernail crap "matching" the underwear DNA. No, it doesn't, because it can't. There were, at best, 2 to 3 viable markers in the fingernail DNA. IOW, it was so incomplete to possibly not even being DNA but just stutter. One cannot "match" 2 or 3 alleles to 9 alleles (and 1 iffy allele) and come up with a match. In fact, the criteria for a match in the scientific community is 13 alleles, not 9 or 10, which is basically what this story is about.

    There are so many facets of a good investigation and a good case against someone. IF law enforcement had a lot of irrefutable evidence against a suspect that put him at the scene of a crime and identified him as the perp, and IF they came up with a partial DNA print with 9 markers, they would have a good case, and the 9 markers would be useful to them in further identifying the perp.

    However, if the supporting evidence wasn't there, as is the case in the Ramsey case, those 9 markers are basically useless in identifying anyone, and here's why - it requires 13 good, solid markers to identify someone - that is, alleles that can readily be identified as alleles and not stutter, and DNA that is fresh and whole. Nine alleles out of 13 alleles may match the perp's, but what about those other 4 alleles that are missing? It would be like playing a lottery with 13 numbers - you have 9 numbers that match, but what if the others don't match (which they probably won't)? You can't win the jackpot with those 9 numbers, and you can't, or shouldn't be able to, convict anyone on 9 or 10 alleles, UNLESS you've got damn good supporting evidence to back it up.

    It is not true that one person cannot have the same DNA profile as another person. It is possible; however, it is not very likely, which is why they place the odds so high. Obviously, not everyone's DNA has been tested for comparison, but segments of the population have been tested. That's how scientists come up with their equations.

    This really isn't news, at least it isn't to me. When I was a little girl, I read somewhere that no two snowflakes have the same pattern. I thought then, and I still do, well, how do they know that? There are snowflakes right outside right now - big, gloppy snowflakes - that no one has put under a microscope. How do they know none of them match? Science can't test everyone for DNA, either, so they test segments and apply the results to the larger population. It's not foolproof by any means, but it's pretty good.

    The lesson here is that we have to hold our courts to a higher standard. No taking 9 or 10 alleles and saying it's enough to convict anyone, without really good supporting evidence. Obviously, if the cops have a strong case against someone without that incomplete DNA profile, then that DNA can help to suggest the perp was at the scene. However, no court should ever convict anyone based on incomplete DNA profile alone. That's what the RST has been banking on, and it's not ever going to happen. Even if John Karr had had 9 markers match the 9 markers that are allegedly on file at CODIS, they never would have convicted Karr on those markers, because defense attorneys would have brought up this very subject or incomplete DNA, and they had no other supporting evidence to back it up - even Karr's confession was flawed.

    I think every DA in the country should be required to take courses on DNA. If Mary Lacy knew anything about the subject, she would not be relying on that flimsy evidence to convict anyone.

    Hope this helps, Elle. DNA is a very complicated subject. My knowledge is very basic, and anything more extensive comes right from the expert's keyboard.
  9. BobC

    BobC Poster of the EON - Fabulous Inimitable Transcript

    All that being said, WY--the million dollar question remains. Why is Lacy acting like this vaunted DNA partial specimen can "match" anybody? Is she stupid? Yes, the partial specimen can (in some cases)exclude people, but it can't match anybody since there aren't enough markers there. Henry Lee found artifact DNA in every pair of panties he opened way back when, so why is Lacy acting like it's the definitive proof one way or another?

    Nobody can ever be matched to this DNA, so why the dog and pony show? Who is running this show? Oh wait, don't answer that. I already know.
  10. Elle

    Elle Member

    Thank you WY for taking the time to make this excellent post. I know you are tired of repeating yourself over and over again. I am printing this, so I will have it on hand at all times. I have learned more from you than anyone else about DNA, because you know what you're talking about, and you explain it so much better than many others do.
  11. Cherokee

    Cherokee FFJ Senior Member

    Mary Lacy knows less about DNA than she knows about hair curtains.
  12. Watching You

    Watching You Superior Bee Admin

    I'm nearly bald from pulling my hair out over this very subject, Bob. It should be obvious to even lay people who know little about DNA, but Lacy is a professional (with hair curtains), and it is HER JOB to know about DNA. There is only one reason to rely on the DNA in this case, and it's not to convict anyone. It shouldn't even be used to exclude anyone, because no one can positively connect it to the crime, and no one can date the DNA. Common sense says that DNA was not deposited the same time JBR's blood DNA was, because JBR's DNA was viable and complete, but the foreign DNA was not. That ought to ring all of Lacy's bells, but it hasn't. The fact that there is disagreement among the experts on the sourcing of the foreign DNA is another big bell ringer.

    People can be smart and still be stupid as hell at analyzing evidence. Or they can be so blinded by their bias, they just refuse to see what's right in front of their eyes. Lacy has been so committed to the intruder theory for so long, it's embedded in her soul. Nevermind the evidence that says there was no intruder in the house that night. Focus on the intruder, because the Ramseys couldn't have done it.

    The DA and her team of investigators over the years has been thoroughly compromised and should be barred from ever having any authority or influence over a completely new and independent investigation. Get truly unbiased investigators to take over the case - FBI would be fine with me (oh, I forgot, they are BORG, LOL). Send in NYC investigators. Give them all the case files and let them do their work as they are so good at doing. I'd like to see someone like Elliott Spitzer, the AG of NYS and probably the next govenor of NYS, take over the case. That guy is a tenacious fighter for justice, and he backs down to no one.

    It really is time to get the investigation out of Boulder and away from Lacy, Smit, Tracey, and all the muck mucks and political influences that have covered for the Ramseys all these years. And, for Gawd sake, take this case away from Lacy, because she is truly a very stupid woman.
  13. heymom

    heymom Member

    If you keep saying "DNA" to the media, the general public thinks you have a way to find the killer. The DA's office in Boulder knows how to spin things through the media to get to public opinion. The term "DNA" is scientific yet incomprehensible to people who don't study it well enough to understand. Most people don't have the time to really delve into the subject and it's technical and requires thought.

    And then you throw in outright lies by lawyers and suspects and investigators (and DAs) which no one bothers to dispute (because people who do understand what's being said are not at the press conferences, briefings, etc.) and there is your result - Total confusion and mistaken belief that the "DNA" will convict the criminal. :mad:
  14. Watching You

    Watching You Superior Bee Admin

    Lin Wood is the one who, IMO, has told the biggest fabrications concerning the DNA. He's a smart guy - he knows better - but rather than tell the truth about it, he lets it hang out there that the DNA is the killer's, and it can convict someone. To me, that's a lie. Call it spin, if you like, but it's an outright lie, unless he's really that clueless about DNA.
  15. heymom

    heymom Member

    He got through law school - I would think he is at least as smart as I am, and I understand the basics, thanks to your clear explanations. I call it lying too.

  16. Watching You

    Watching You Superior Bee Admin

    Ahh, Elle, you give me far too much credit. My expert is a dear friend and a genuinely good guy, as well as being my ex-boss, now gone back to his first love - teaching and researching. He's so smart, my eyes start crossing when he starts getting into proteins and chromosomes and the more complex aspects of DNA, but he is so very good at explaining it in lay terms so that I can understand. He has always been most willing to answer my questions. I have the utmost respect for this man, and if he says it's so, it's so.

    But, so much of the explanation just lies in numbers and common sense. One doesn't have to be a scientist with umpteen degrees after his name to know you can't compare 2 of anything to 10 of the same and come up with a positive match. It's not possible. It's not possible with 9 out of 13, either.
  17. Harley

    Harley Member

    JoeJame - I remember that show. It seems (if I remember correctly) that either the mother or the child had two sets of DNA and when the test was done the DNA they tested did not match the one they were comparing it too. They were telling the mother that this was not her child and she knew that it was. After some investigation the other DNA was discovered. Apparently this is very rare but can happen.
  18. Watching You

    Watching You Superior Bee Admin

    Was this the program where they finally matched the mother's DNA to DNA found in the child's thyroid?
  19. JoeJame

    JoeJame member

    Thanks Harley. I thought that was rather interesting. I guess nothing is etched in stone. I'm not sure about the thyroid thing WY.
  20. Elle

    Elle Member


    Should I forward that article from Orphan to Mary Keenan Lacy? Seriously? No correspondence with it, just the article?
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