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Judges: DNA admittance was harmless error

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The Indiana Court of Appeals addressed for the first time today the admissibility of DNA evidence when a defendant can’t be excluded from a possibly infinite number of people matching the crime-scene DNA.

DNA evidence is admissible when the DNA analysis indicates a defendant’s profile is consistent with DNA found at the crime scene because that evidence has a high probative value, wrote Judge Melissa May. But the judges had to look to other jurisdictions for guidance on admitting DNA when a defendant can’t be excluded from a high number of people matching the DNA and the DNA expert can’t offer a statistical probability whether the crime-scene DNA came from the defendant.

In Quintez Deloney v. State of Indiana, No. 22A01-0906-CR-273, Quintez Deloney appealed his convictions of and sentences for Class A felony attempted robbery resulting in serious bodily injury and Class A felony burglary resulting in bodily injury. At his trial, a DNA technician testified regarding DNA collected from a red hat found at the crime scene. She said the DNA sample had DNA from two or three people and that she could neither exclude nor include Deloney from the DNA profiles.

Using the approach that requires accompanying statistical data for DNA evidence to be admissible, the judges concluded that the technician’s testimony lacked relevancy and shouldn’t have been admitted. The technician was unable to give any statistical analysis of the probability of a match, so her testimony couldn’t help the jury understand the evidence or make the existence of some fact more probable or less probable, wrote Judge May.

Admitting the DNA evidence was a harmless error, however, because there was substantial independent evidence of Deloney’s guilt.

The appellate court affirmed Deloney’s conviction of and sentence for Class A felony burglary, but vacated his conviction of Class A felony robbery to prevent double jeopardy. The judges ordered on remand that his sentence be reduced to Class C felony robbery and wrote that the trial court should consider whether it wants to shorten his sentence for burglary based on their ruling that the lower court erred by finding an aggravator in the victim’s alleged mental infirmity at the time of the crime.

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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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