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Last updateFri, 04 Jul 2014 5pm

Canine DNA

Canine DNA Admitted In California Murder Case

Canine DNA Admitted In Criminal Cases Across the U.S.

caninedna

People of California v. Ige

Canine DNA was sucessfully admitted in court in People v. Ige, 2010 WL 3518148 (Cal. App. 4 Dist.).  The trial court ruled that canine DNA evidence extracted from dog hairs was admissable because it had been generally accepted in the scientific community, and it was not a new or novel procedure. The trial court found that the canine DNA evidence met the "Frye/Kelly" test and was reliable and admissible. The appellate court affirmed the trial court's ruling.

The canine DNA issue arose when dogs hairs taken from a burnt floor mat at the crime scene, a fire pit, were found to match the dogs Sadie, Buck and Sherlock, three dogs that lived in the same house as Ige.  This canine DNA evidence thus put Ige at the scene, despite his denials. There was additional evidence that Ige was involved in the murder, including DNA from cigarettes, and DNA blood stains from the victim in Ige's car. 

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Canine DNA

City of Tea, South Dakota Codifies DNA Defense 

The City of Tea, South Dakota has done something no other American city has done:  statutorily provided a DNA defense to Pit Bulls visually classified as such. The city does require Pit Bulls to be registered and muzzled while in public, and owners must carry $500,000 liability insurance.  The full ordinance can be read here.  The DNA defense in contained in Section 7.09 (H) which states: 

The above sections do not apply if the majority of the animal is proven to be non Pit Bull or Wolf DNA. The Burden of proof falls on the owner of the animal with the City reimbursing the owner for the cost of the test if the test confirms that the majority of DNA is not Pit Bull or Wolf. 

No other city has such a statutory defense. In Miami, for instance, animal control will not even consider DNA evidence once they have classified a dog visually.  You have to appeal and go before a hearing examiner to contest with DNA evidence.  Exactly such a fact pattern resulted in the Dade County Appellate Court ruling that an animal control officer is not qualified to identify a Pit Bull by visual identification.  This case has been discussed on PBLN here. Visual identifications are almost totally unreliable. According to scientific studies, shelter personnel are only 25% sucessful in identifying a dog's breed by visual identification-worse than chance.  The evolution of canine DNA will be discussed on this site shortly.