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Forensic DNA Evidence Interpretation, 2nd ed.

Forensic DNA Evidence Interpretation, 2nd ed

J. S. Buckleton, J. A. Bright, D. Taylor, Eds CRC Press: Boca Raton, FL, US; 2016

+1 412 396 2624; schantzl@duq.edu

The second edition of Forensic DNA Evidence Interpretation, edited by John S. Buckleton, Jo-Anne Bright, and Duncan Taylor, provides an extensive reference for analysts performing the complex process of DNA interpretation. As the forensic community confronts DNA interpretation inconsistencies, the timely release of this updated text (originally released in 2005) provides a resource to support the discussions surrounding interpretation procedures. Extensive updates cover interpretation from single-source to complex profiles and an exploration of the continuous model utilized in probabilistic genotyping software. While this book will not quell the debates surrounding interpretation methods, it does provide a foundation to comprehend numerous methods from a theoretical and statistical understanding.

The three editors essentially author each chapter with additional contributions from leading DNA and statistical experts. This continuity in authorship provides a cohesive text and tone that is not always achieved by an edited text. The book begins with a short history of DNA and a refresher on basic biology while describing STR analysis and next-generation sequencing. Chapter one continues by explaining STR profiles and PCR effects that affect interpretation, including stutter, drop-in, and other artifacts. Chapter two explores uncertainty and probability as a framework for evidence interpretation. The chapter provides a full description of different types of probabilities utilized in evidence interpretation. The approaches include frequency in terms of both coincidence probabilities and exclusion probabilities, the likelihood ratio framework, and a full Bayesian approach. There is a nice section in this chapter explaining evidence interpretation in court, which is very practical for DNA analysts. This section also indicates different fallacies and tips for avoiding these fallacies when testifying. Chapter three discusses three population genetic models, the product rule and two variants of subpopulation correction. The next chapter discusses how relatedness affects the interpretation process. Chapter five is dedicated to validating databases to understand where allele frequencies come from. Since this is written for an international audience from a European perspective, limited mention of CODIS is present in this book, which differs from American authored textbooks. Chapter six discusses the differing opinions regarding the uncertainty of the numerical weight applied to a match.

Essentially chapters one through six provide the foundational information necessary to understand DNA interpretation. The next few chapters explore interpretation of samples beginning with single-source samples from good-quality profiles with low probability of dropout and moving to low-template DNA samples. The book proceeds through the interpretation of complex profiles with descriptions of manual interpretation and semicontinuous methods. The following chapter explains the continuous model by focusing on the STRmix interpretation software. STRmix is the only continuous approach explored, given the editors' familiarity with the program. Although it is generally known that the editors also created the program, this is not explicitly stated, which would have increased transparency. The chapter explains how STRmix works through to its acceptance in court. Later chapters describe nonautosomal markers such as lineage markers and mitochondrial testing and parentage testing. The book concludes with DNA intelligence databases and broadly describes how the databases function.

The introduction of the book states that it is written for caseworkers "less mathematically attuned", but this text relies heavily on presenting the mathematical underpinnings associated with DNA evidence interpretation. The benefit of this textbook is the strong mathematical-focus rather than the purely theoretical. Many formulas are provided for calculating different statistics based on scenarios encountered by DNA casework analysts. This is a comprehensive text for DNA practitioners. Certain content could also be valuable to a master's-level forensic biology student to increase the understanding of DNA statistics prior to entering a laboratory. The extensive reference list provides over 1,000 additional sources, but not all appear to be accessible. The text does provide an international perspective, which is of significant value for US practitioners to better understand methods applied worldwide. This will be increasingly important as the use of likelihood ratios continues to expand in the US given its established use in other countries. The second edition of Forensic DNA Evidence Interpretation is an important text for DNA practitioners to better understand the methods that underlie current DNA interpretation methods.

Reviewed by: Lyndsie N. Ferrara, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA, US
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Author:Ferrara, Lyndsie N.
Publication:Forensic Science Review
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jan 1, 2018
Words:717
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