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Thursday, May 11th 2006

Duke Defense Takes A Blow

The Durham Herald-Sun is reporting a partial DNA match. The private lab is using some pretty weird terminology to describe it,

Analyzing the tissue, scientists concluded it came from the same genetic pool and was “consistent” with the bodily makeup of one of 46 lacrosse players who gave DNA samples for testing, the sources said.

At the same time, scientists ruled out a possible match with any of the other 45 students, according to the sources.

This is good news for the Durham DA, but it is also kind’ve fishy. Nifong has a State Crime Lab at his disposal, which did the initial round of testing, but then he went out and hired a private lab to do additional testing (?!). Maybe there’s an explanation in the complexity of the testing. Now they have DNA evidence “consistent” with the DNA of one of the 46 lacrosse players.

An uncited “DNA expert” provides his analysis,

A DNA expert said Wednesday that one way a DNA report sometimes says DNA is “consistent” with a particular person is when there’s a partial DNA profile of fewer than all 13 genetic markers commonly used in testing kits.

In that case, the number of markers available determines the reliability of the match, said Theodore D. Kessis, owner of Applied DNA Resources in Columbus, Ohio.

“It really depends then upon how partial is that profile,” he said in a telephone interview. “A lot of people are of the opinion, including myself, that if it’s supposed to test for 13, it should get 13, and something less than 13 is starting to hinge on the reliability of the result.”

Nifong said earlier he was pursuing the possibility of another indictment, although reports indicated the dancer was able to identify a third person with only 90 percent certainty. WRAL-TV, citing a transcript of the photo identification session the dancer had with police, reported Wednesday that she indicated a fourth player also may have been involved in assaulting her.

Tissue found under the dancer’s fingernails was consistent with the third man’s DNA pattern, sources told The Herald-Sun on Wednesday.

As well, in a convenient move, the cab driver who provided an alibi for one of the accused is picked up on a 2 1/2 year old shoplifting warrant. He goes 2 1/2 years without the warrant being enforced and its not like this happens at a traffic stop, they go out and arrest him. While he’s in custody they question him extensively about the Duke lacrosse case (according to him).

Taxi driver Moezeldin Elmostafa said Investigator R.D. Clayton and another officer asked whether he had anything new to tell them about the rape case before driving him to the Durham County jail. He said no and was held for five hours, until a friend posted his bail on a shoplifting charge.

Ernest Conner, a Greenville lawyer who represents defendant Reade Seligmann, said the cabbie’s arrest amounted to intimidation. “It appears to me they are trying to pressure a witness who supports our defendant’s rock-solid alibi,” Conner said.

I’m not trying to make it sound like I believe these guys are innocent (although I know I’m doing a good job of that), but com’n, the prosecution’s advancement of this case has been well outside the realm of “normal”. Their tactics and behavior has been bizarre, and this incident with the cab driver only highlights that.