MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- A new method used by the state crime lab to compare DNA samples in criminal investigations is scientifically sound and may be used as evidence in three cases, a judge ruled.
Hennepin County District Judge Thor Anderson concluded Friday that the testing method is accepted by the scientific community, a key requirement for its use in court.
The ruling applies to a homicide and two rapes in Hennepin County. If one is appealed because of the DNA evidence, which attorneys said could occur only after a trial, the higher court ruling could set a precedent for the state.
The new test is faster and more accurate and requires a smaller sample than a method used by the crime lab of the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for the past decade, experts testified.
DNA, the chemical code residing in human cells, can be compared by testing hair, tissue, blood or other body fluids. The new method allows tiny amounts, such as a speck of blood or saliva from a cigarette butt, to be tested and compared with the DNA of a criminal suspect or victim.
Hennepin County prosecutor Steve Redding said the method produces an extremely low chance of a mismatch. But Patrick Sullivan, a county public defender who challenged the method, said he will ask the judge to reconsider at least part of his order.
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