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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 70234 Find in a Library
Title: Sex Typing of Dried Blood - Science in the Courtroom?
Journal: Criminal Law Bulletin  Volume:16  Issue:4  Dated:(July/August 1980)  Pages:325-357
Author(s): E Warner
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 33
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The admissibility as evidence of the sex typing of dried blood is examined in case studies of two New York trials.
Abstract: In connection with unrelated murders in New York City, Gary Alston and Leonard Goldfaden were arrested and charged on the basis of circumstantial evidence. The legal controversy that emerged from these cases stemmed from both defendants having blood on their clothing which each claimed to be his own. In the course of trying the Alston case the prosecutor learned that the chief medical examiner of Los Angeles County, Dr. Thomas T. Noguchi, had used a technique which he claimed could determine the donor's sex from dried blood and tissue cells. Since the defendant was male and the victim female, such evidence would be valuable in confirming or disproving Alston's claim that the blood on his clothing was his. Using the Y body, drumstick, and Barr body tests on the 2-year-old blood sample, Noguchi concluded there were no male chromosomes. A reliability hearing was then held to determine whether the findings were admissible as scientific evidence. On the basis of the Frye legal doctrine, to be admissible as scientific evidence, the scientific principles involved have to be generally accepted in the scientific community and the particular evidence must be competent for submission to the jury. Although expert witnesses at the hearing established that the scientific community generally accepts that the sex of a donor can be determined from a fresh blood sample, there is little evidence that an aged dried blood sample can yield accurate results regarding the sex of the donor. Further, the number of cells examined in both the Alston and Goldfaden case was deemed insufficient to constitute a valid scientific test. Consequently, the blood tests were ruled inadmissible in both cases. These cases indicate the inadequacy of New York City's forensic laboratory work, since tests on the sex chromosomes of the blood cells should have been run on the fresh samples to produce potentially admissible evidence. Footnotes are provided.
Index Term(s): Blood/body fluid analysis; Case studies; Expert witnesses; Judicial decisions; New York; Rules of evidence
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