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New DNA test can distinguish identical twins, prosecutors say; is it 'ready for prime time'?


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9/16/2014
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Prosecutors in Boston say a new DNA test offers proof that they have charged the correct identical twin in the rapes and robberies of two women in 2004.

The suspect, Dwayne McNair, 33, pleaded not guilty on Monday to eight counts of aggravated rape and two counts of armed robbery, report the New York Times, the Boston Herald and the Boston Globe. McNair was arraigned after the test by a company called Eurofins Scientific concluded he was 2 billion times more likely to have been the source of the DNA evidence than his identical twin brother.

In a statement, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley said the scientific foundation for the test technique is well-established, though its forensic application is new. “To the best of our knowledge our case will be the first prosecution to use it,” he said.

In this December press release, Eurofins describes its “research breakthrough” proving that rare genetic mutations can occur soon after or before the ovum splits in two, the process that produces identical twins. Such mutations are carried into body and sperm cells, the company says. The Telegraph has a story on the study.

University of California at Los Angeles law professor Jennifer Mnookin told the Times that she has not heard of any U.S. case using the test. A judge will have to consider whether the test can be admitted as evidence. “They should make sure the tests are ready for prime time,” she said.



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