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Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) Cases



The advent of STR technology has advanced nuclear DNA typing in the forensic community, however in some samples there is not enough nuclear DNA for conclusive results. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis is a powerful alternative in these situations. This page is dedicated to dissemination of legal decisions regarding the use of mtDNA in forensic science. We will include the decisions in Acrobat (.pdf) format as we have with the STR material. If you have decisions regarding this technology please send them to us so they can be included here.

There are decisions where mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) testing was found to be admissible that can be accessed easily on Westlaw or Lexis. Those cases are listed below:

  1. State v. Council, 335 S.C. 1, 515 S.E.2d 508 (S.C., Apr 05, 1999) (NO. 2493 2) council.PDF
  2. People v. Klinger, 713 N.Y.S.2d 823, 2000 N.Y. Slip Op. 20450 (N.Y.Co.Ct., Sep 05, 2000) (NO. 0849/00) klinger1.PDF
  3. State v. Smith, 100 Wash.App. 1064, 2000 WL 688180 (Wash.App. Div. 2, May 26, 2000) (NO. 23406-8-II) smith.htm
  4. State v. Underwood, 134 N.C.App. 533, 518 S.E.2d 231 (N.C.App., Aug 17, 1999) (NO. COA98-648) underwood.htm
  5. State v. Ware, 1999 WL 233592 (Tenn.Crim.App., Apr 20, 1999) (NO. 03C01-9705CR00164) ware.PDF and post conviction decision, Tenn.Crim.App., No. E2008-02393-CCA-R3-PC, 12/2/09. Ware Post Conviction Appeal.pdf
  6. Adams v. Mississippi, 2001 WL 410800 (Miss.App., Apr 24, 2001) (NO. 2000-KA-00242-COA) adams.PDF
  7. Connecticut v. Pappas (Connecticut Supreme Court Ruling, SC16257, release date 7/24/01) pappas1.PDF
  8. Sheckells v. Texas, 2001 WL 1178828 (Tex.App.-Dallas)  Sheckells.htm
  9. Tennessee v. Scott (S.Ct. of Tennessee, No.96-C-1362, 10/3/00) scott.PDF
  10. People v. Holtzer, 2003 WL 722452 Mich.App., Feb. 25, 2003. Holtzer.PDF
  11. New York v. Ko, Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department, 4/22/03 Ko.PDF
  12. Magaletti v. State Fla.App. 2 Dist.,4/4/03 magaletta1.PDF
  13. Lewis v. Alabama, Crim. App. Alabama, CR-99-1155. 5/30/02. lewis.PDF
  14. U.S. v. Beverly, 369 F.3d 516, C.A.6 (Ohio), 2004. US V. Beverly.PDF
  15. Wagner v. State, Maryland Court of Special Appeals, No. 2034 1/3/05. Wagner.PDF
  16. Michigan v. Mason, Michigan Court of Appeals No. 251533, 12/21/04. Mason.PDF
  17. U.S. v. Chase, Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Criminal Division, No.F-7330-99, 1/10/05 chase.PDF
  18. State v. West, 274 Conn. 605, --- A.2d ----, 7/26/05, The fact that mtDNA hair analysis is more precise than microscopic hair analysis does not render evidence regarding the latter inadmissible. The necessarily imprecise character of the hair identification goes to the weight of the microscopic hair analysis testimony, rather than its admissibility. west.PDF
  19. People v. Sutherland, Illinois Supreme Court, # 99047, 9/21/06, Admissibility of the mtDNA evidence was not at issue on appeal but the trial court ruled it was admissible pursuant to Frye. Sutherland.PDF
  20. Vaughn v. State, Supreme Court of Georgia, No.S07A0740, 6/4/07, Admissibility of the mtDNA evidence was upheld. Vaughn v. Georgia.PDF
  21. State v. Brochu, Vermont Supreme Court, 2008 VT 21, No. 2005-177, 3/7/08, the court concluded that it was not an abuse of discretion to admit mtDNA evidence under the relevancy standard where the defendant’s mtDNA profile was commonly found in the population. The defendant has not challenged the science and technology behind mtDNA evidence. Brochu.PDF

There are other rulings where courts have allowed mtDNA evidence in at trial. Some of those cases are listed below:

  1. R.v. Murrin (British Columbia Supreme Court, Vancouver). murrin.htm
  2. Connecticut v. Pappas pappas.PDF (see above appellate decision)
  3. Florida v. Magaletti magaletti.PDF (see above appellate decision)
  4. Maryland v. Williams williams.PDF
  5. Colorado v. Than than.PDF
  6. Colorado v. Sierra-Omi ni Sierra-Omini.PDF
  7. California v. Johnson (San Diego County) johnson.PDF
  8. Delaware v. Hammons, Delaware Superior Court, 3/28/02 (NO. 9809019760) Hammons.PDF
  9. U.S. v. Coleman, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri. coleman.PDF
  10. Minnesota v. Zanter Zanter.PDF
  11. California v. Scott Lee Peterson (Stanislaus County) 11/18/03 peterson.PDF
  12. New Jersey v. Jimenez, 9/1/04 Jimenez.PDF
  13. R. v. Woodcock, Ontario Superior Court of Justice O.J. No. 5186, Court File No. 8808-97, 8/18/06. Woodcock.PDF

An Introduction to Mitochondrial DNA, Technology Transition Workshop, NIJ, 2009