News & CommentForensic Science

Phylogenetic Analysis: Getting Its Day in Court

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Science  14 Mar 1997:
Vol. 275, Issue 5306, pp. 1559-1560
DOI: 10.1126/science.275.5306.1559

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A trial for attempted murder, currently scheduled for 3 May in Lafayette, Louisiana, may for the first time in the United States feature a new type of evidence: phylogenetic analysis, in which DNA samples from various sources are compared to see how closely related they are. In this case, a doctor is alleged to have tried to kill his former mistress by injecting her with HIV-infected blood from one of his patients, and the prosecution wants to use the analysis to support its case. The evidence was ruled admissible in a preliminary hearing, although the defense is now challenging that ruling.