×

Announcing: Slashdot Deals - Explore geek apps, games, gadgets and more. (what is this?)

Thank you!

We are sorry to see you leave - Beta is different and we value the time you took to try it out. Before you decide to go, please take a look at some value-adds for Beta and learn more about it. Thank you for reading Slashdot, and for making the site better!

Twins' DNA Foils Police

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the now-i-wish-i-had-a-twin dept.

Crime 209

Hugh Pickens writes "The Telegraph reports that James and John Parr were both arrested after watches worth £10,000 were stolen from a shopping center. Police found blood on a piece of glass at the scene of the crime and traced it back to the 25-year-old identical twins through DNA tests. But James and John both denied the theft and, because they have identical DNA, it has been impossible to prove beyond a reasonable doubt which twin is responsible. 'The police told us that they knew it was one of us, but we both denied it,' says James. 'I definitely know I didn't do anything wrong. I was watching my daughter that night.' Now the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has concluded that it cannot prove beyond reasonable doubt who was responsible. 'Unless further evidence becomes available, we are unable to authorize any charge at this time,' says CPS spokesman Rob Pett. 'This is certainly not something that we regularly encounter.' Identical twins have hindered police investigations a number of times since the advent of DNA testing. In Malaysia last year, a man suspected of drug-smuggling and sentenced to death was released when the court could not prove whether it was he or his twin brother who committed the crime."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Obvious Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31716966)

Put them both in jail until one of them confesses under penalty of contempt of court.

Or maybe the police could do their jobs! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31717014)

Instead of resorting to third-world tactics like that, maybe the police investigators could just do their jobs, investigate the crime scene, and find some less-ambigous evidence that conclusively points to one brother or the other. Oh, and that doesn't mean that they "manufacture" the evidence, either.

Re:Or maybe the police could do their jobs! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31717424)

Doesn't the fact that they found DNA evidence already show that the police have investigated the crime scene? Aside from finger prints (presumably the wore gloves) and CCTV footage (presumably the worse masks) what other evidence could the police look for?

While I believe "incompetent", "worthless", "obsessed with political correctness" and "waste of tax payer's money" are all valid descriptions in of the UK police force, in this instance I can't find any fault in their performance.

Re:Or maybe the police could do their jobs! (1)

HeronBlademaster (1079477) | more than 4 years ago | (#31718264)

They could try to figure out which one recently became richer (or has a friend who recently became richer), or which one rented a storage location in which to store the stolen goods, or any of a bazillion other types of normal evidence they could attempt to locate.

You know, the kind of stuff they would have tried to figure out back before DNA evidence was ever used.

Just an idea.

Re:Or maybe the police could do their jobs! (-1, Flamebait)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717536)

Charge them both with obstruction of justice at the very least.

They know damn well they're trying to use their twinosity to confound justice.

Fuck that! (4, Insightful)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717676)

As an identical twin, I can tell you that your idea stinks. If my brother commits a crime, and I deny it, I don't think I should be charged with obstruction of justice. I don't know what he's doing at any given time of the day. I couldn't tell you what he's doing right now. He could be robbing a jewelry store for all I know.

Re:Fuck that! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31717844)

I couldn't tell you what he's doing right now. He could be robbing a jewelry store for all I know.

Hey! No I'm not!

Re:Fuck that! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31717968)

well, he knows you're not, but he's trying to pin it on you now while he's at the jewelry store.

Re:Or maybe the police could do their jobs! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31717734)

What third world tactics? Using DNA and asking questions to suspects is third world?

Re:Or maybe the police could do their jobs! (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717924)

    It says in the story that they wouldn't prosecute without more than just DNA evidence. Really though, it limited their suspect pool to two people. One has a legitimate alibi. The other only has his word that he didn't do it.

    This is the UK we're talking about. They have a camera on every street corner. They could review the footage, and effectively follow him from the crime scene back to his house. But gosh, that requires work, and it's easier to just get a confession from one of them. It should have given the police probable cause to search both residences. I don't know UK law, but it should be similar enough for the police to go have a look.

    Some folks mentioned looking for cuts. Umm, obviously. If they both had cuts, then that's inconclusive, but if they don't follow the leads, they're being stupid.

Re:Or maybe the police could do their jobs! (3, Insightful)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717956)

Another possibility would be to examine both people's alibi.

Trying to hold 2 people for 1 peron's crime is just lazy.

Presumably one of them can't properly account for their whereabouts at the time of the crime. One of their alibis' has got to have a hole in it (unless a 'third' mysterious twin did it)

At least one twin is lying, and possibly a friend covering their alibi is lying. They couldn't have both really been watching their daughter that night.

Unless one of them that committed the crime took their daughter with them, that is. It is doubtful both twins wear exactly the same clothing, same vehicle type, and other things, so perhaps if there was some sort of trace evidence left at the scene, they could be fingered..... At a shopping center, there should be at least one witness, unless this was an inside job done while it was closed.

I also would not neglect the possibility that both twins were involved in the crime.

If both twins were involved, they could have both planned to point to the other twin and make sure there was not enough evidence to incriminate either of them. In this manner, committing the perfect crime in plain sight.

I assume the police actually did both nuclear DNA and mitochondrial DNA testing on both twins, and other analysis of blood content?

Or maybe not.

Even identical twins don't necessarily eat the same things. The criminal has some different behaviors / different tastes, that they ought to be able to find evidence of.

They could probably analyze behavior and figure out which one is actually capable of committing the crime that happened

Re:Obvious Solution (3, Insightful)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717018)

Guilty until proven innocent?

Re:Obvious Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31717072)

Put them both in jail until one of them confesses under penalty of contempt of court.

This seems like a great idea. We could do this beyond DNA too.
The security camera shows the robber had blond hair. Let's put everybody with blond hair in jail until they confess under penalty of contempt of court.

:rollseyes:

Re:Obvious Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31717112)

What if they both confess and the evidence is conclusive that both of them couldn't be there at the same time?

Re:Obvious Solution (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717180)

Obviously the one who confesses is the good twin, so you should immediately arrest the other.

Re:Obvious Solution (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717548)

Isolate them, and ask each one who the other says is guilty.

Re:Obvious Solution (1)

dissy (172727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717766)

Isolate them, and ask each one who the other says is guilty.

If they both actually believe themselves to be innocent, then neither will have admitted anything to the other, and possibly both will blame the other, since no matter now much they 'cant believe he would do that', they would be sure they didn't.

On the other hand, if one IS guilty and this is a ploy to avoid an arrest, then both will know that one does not have to answer that question at all, let alone truthfully.
They would both have agreed to say "I know for sure I did not do it, and I just can't believe my brother would do that ever, but I don't know how else to explain the evidence"

Re:Obvious Solution (3, Funny)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#31718058)

    Actually, neither will confess, and neither one did it. As it turns out they were actually triplets when they were born. The parents had to give one up for adoption. The adopted brother, through cruel twists of fate, turned to crime at a young age. Neither of the "twins" know anything about the third brother.

    But, that's not the whole story. The third brother married into a well connected crime family. He did what the family wanted, but that still didn't make them satisfied with him. In time, there was resentment by some of the "family" members, and even his wife.

    The wife was having an affair with another member of the crime family. One morning the third brother cut himself shaving. She took that blood, and gave it to her lover, and *HE* is the one who committed the crime.

    No one in the crime family, nor even the third brother, knew there were two more people who would positively identify to the DNA match. The third brother remains unsuspected to this day, and those in his circle continue to live free, until the day that his wife finally gets rid of him, one way or another.

    {sigh} don't you people ever watch murder/mystery/detective shows? Hell, even an educated background of Scooby Doo mysteries would have thought of this one. Or the old man who lived in the cabin on the hill. :)

Re:Obvious Solution (1)

eosp (885380) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717448)

Then they both confess, and you're exactly where you are now.

Re:Obvious Solution (2, Funny)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717832)

It's called unlawful arrest. It's not legal to hold someone in contempt of court who is not a witness.

It is unconstitutional (5th amendment violation) to demand someone confess.

Re:Obvious Solution (2, Insightful)

HAKdragon (193605) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717920)

It is unconstitutional (5th amendment violation) to demand someone confess.

While I'm not really familiar with the justice system in the UK, I'd have a hard time believing that the US constitution somehow applies there.

Re:Obvious Solution (1)

Froboz23 (690392) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717864)

This case is further complicated by the fact that one twin always lies, and the other twin always tells the truth. And I can only ask one more question before their lawyers show up! What to do??

Re:Obvious Solution (4, Funny)

Smauler (915644) | more than 4 years ago | (#31718050)

No, it's way easier than that. All you have to do is analyse their DNA, and see which of them has the Evil Bit set. I can't believe this hasn't been done yet.

ps. The evil bit in DNA is not detected by normal comparisons. You need to find a geneticist with 1337 DN4 5C4NN1NG 5K1LLZ. The median age for such geneticists is 13, interestingly.

Poor brother (1)

AniVisual (1373773) | more than 4 years ago | (#31716976)

Not only has he to live with such a dull name, his brother is a moron and he is accused of theft. Well, that is unless he is an accomplice.

Re:Poor brother (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717328)

Could be worse. Instead of John Parr, he could have been named Pon Farr...

Um, this is easy (3, Insightful)

HighOrbit (631451) | more than 4 years ago | (#31716986)

Which one has the cut that left the blood behind?

Re:Um, this is easy (4, Interesting)

Threni (635302) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717086)

And which one cut himself opening catfood. You don't go to prison for cutting yourself feeding your cat, right?

Re:Um, this is easy (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31717408)

You fail at logic. The assumption is that one of them has no cut, which proves that the other one is guilty. If both have cuts then you can't prove anything. Opening catfood doesn't change the validity of this algorithm.

Re:Um, this is easy (2, Informative)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717694)

You fail at reading comprehension. That was his whole point.

Re:Um, this is easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31717110)

It's still entirely circumstantial. There are so many ways to get cut.

Or, if the brothers are working together, they both could have a cut anywhere on their arms (in different spots). You're still in the same boat.

Or one more note, an identical twin could leave a sample of his blood and blame his brother.

Re:Um, this is easy (2, Funny)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717182)

Or one more note, an identical twin could leave a sample of his blood and blame his brother.

Wouldn't that have to be, on top of identical, a secret evil twin?

Re:Um, this is easy (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31717316)

Or one more note, an identical twin could leave a sample of his blood and blame his brother.

Wouldn't that have to be, on top of identical, a secret evil twin?

Only if he has a goatee [photobucket.com] ...

Re:Um, this is easy (1)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717374)

Couldn't anyone leave anyone's blood?

Re:Um, this is easy (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717166)

Who says it was either of them? DNA fingerprints are not unique. There are likely to be 50 other people in the UK with the same DNA fingerprint as the twins and it's entirely possible that one of them was the robber. The depressing thing is that the police seem to think that this is enough evidence to convict even if there is no other evidence, unless they happen to randomly find two people with the same DNA fingerprint.

Re:Um, this is easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31717632)

Ssshhhhh! You are not suppose to point that out in public.

Um, this is easy: bacterial forensics (4, Interesting)

Kozz (7764) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717334)

If the twins have not been living near-identical lives (sharing cars, apartments, etc), they probably have distinct bacterial colonies, and bacterial forensics (an emerging science) could be the key.

http://www.sciencefriday.com/program/archives/201003193 [sciencefriday.com]

This method cannot conclusively place an individual at the scene of the crime, but if combined with DNA evidence, I think you'd have a pretty air-tight case.

Re:Um, this is easy (1)

dontmakemethink (1186169) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717808)

Just because a cut's shape is consistent with the broken glass don't make it so. Plus there's the possibility that the blood was planted, which gets better the more police can't tie either brother to the crime by conventional investigation. Who knows, maybe they sold a blood sample to the real thief to throw off the cops knowing it couldn't be pinned on either of them.

Old days? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31716990)

So DNA is the only way to prove guilt and find the truth? I remember in the old days, before DNA, they were still able to catch criminals. Maybe they should find some retired police officers to see how it's really done.

Re:Old days? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31717118)

So DNA is the only way to prove guilt and find the truth? I remember in the old days, before DNA, they were still able to catch criminals. Maybe they should find some retired police officers to see how it's really done.

Hanging would work well in this case if the English still had the balls to do that sort of thing. Just declare them both to be guilty and that they'll both be hanged. When they're on the gibbet with their necks in a noose the guilty one would probably speak up to spare his brother, and if not just hang them both anyway.

Re:Old days? (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717192)

Sacrificing yourself to spare someone else is generally considered a moral thing to do, so it's more likely that (assuming either is guilty), the innocent one would declare himself guilty. In your world, the state would kill one innocent person and the guilty would go free.

Re:Old days? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31717554)

Spartacus, Schmartacus, I say hang 'em both and get on with the BBC documentary and a warm beer.

Re:Old days? (1)

Tsar (536185) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717246)

Hanging would work well in this case if the English still had the balls to do that sort of thing. Just declare them both to be guilty and that they'll both be hanged. When they're on the gibbet with their necks in a noose the guilty one would probably speak up to spare his brother, and if not just hang them both anyway.

If I were the innocent brother and placed in this situation with no other alternative, I'd gladly confess so that my brother could go free, even knowing (as only I would) that he was the guilty one. I'd be a two thousand years too late to claim that it's my original idea, though.

Re:Old days? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31717574)

If I were the innocent brother and placed in this situation with no other alternative, I'd gladly confess so that my brother could go free, even knowing (as only I would) that he was the guilty one. I'd be a two thousand years too late to claim that it's my original idea, though.

fuck that.

my twin is standing next to me at the gallows, guilty as sin, and refuses to admit his guilt in order to save me? he's an asshole and deserves the hanging even more than before.

Re:Old days? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31717646)

Or maybe the assumption that the DNA was left by the perpetrator is wrong and neither brother committed the crime.

Re:Old days? (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717576)


I'd gladly confess so that my brother could go free, even knowing (as only I would) that he was the guilty one. I'd be a two thousand years too late to claim that it's my original idea, though.

In that kind of a "justice" system, the goal isn't justice but retribution and a show of power. As long as someone gets hung for the crime it doesn't much matter if it was the right person or not. The state "got it's guy", so everyone is safe again.

We're not entirely immune to that today. This guy [wikipedia.org] was the 3rd person FBI tried to finger for the 2001 Anthrax attacks, despite the evidence all being circumstantial. He committed suicide before he could be charged, but the FBI has closed the case essentially saying this was the guy. If you read through the evidence it's very weak. Before Irvins the focus was one another scientist Steven Hatfil, who they eventually abandoned as a suspect. The fact that they seriously investigated Hatfill for so long only shows how poor of an idea the FBI has of who actually committed these crimes.

Re:Old days? (1)

xonar (1069832) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717580)

+5

Re:Old days? (2, Insightful)

Draek (916851) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717362)

I know dissing new technology and looking to the past with rose-tinted glasses is all the rage these days, but don't you think that if they had any other leads, they would've pursued them as well?

Besides, not only did the old methods catch only some criminals (so do the newer ones, but for higher values of 'some'), many of those they did catch ended up decades later to not have been criminals after all.

Re:Old days? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31717442)

I'm not dissing new technology it, but when the power goes off it's nice to know how to survive for a day or two.

By the same token new technology is not bullet proof. Go google for people who have been wrongly convicted "because" of DNA evidence. It happens a lot. Usually because of relatives' DNA. Doesn't have to be a twin for them to think it was you. Most cases it's a relative the person didn't even know they had.
So, don't put all you eggs in one basket. A good investigation and prosecution doesn't rely solely on the just technology or just detective work but both.

Re:Old days? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31717988)

So DNA is the only way to prove guilt and find the truth? I remember in the old days, before DNA, they were still able to catch criminals. Maybe they should find some retired police officers to see how it's really done.

Yeah, like using the millions of CCTV surveillance cameras all over the UK. Doesn't seem to be working so well...

Just goes to show (5, Insightful)

azaris (699901) | more than 4 years ago | (#31716998)

DNA by itself should never be used as the sole evidence to convict someone. It can be a useful indicator for finding suspects, but there always needs to be more direct evidence to provide a conviction. It is not just that people who don't have twins can be convicted solely based on DNA evidence, while people who do have twins cannot because of the possibility of convicting an innocent person. And that is not even going into DNA collisions or tainted samples.

Re:Just goes to show (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717148)

...and don't forget potential for immunity of genetic chimeras (though certainly not when there's a sample of blood found on the crimescene, since that's what will also be teste)

Re:Just goes to show (1)

dr_dank (472072) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717276)

There were eyewitness accounts describing the suspect as a man in motion, also in need of a pair of wheels. This could only implicate John Parr.

Re:Just goes to show (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31718052)

Actually, DNA evidence has been used to convict someone who was a twin before. Last time I heard it happened, the other twin had an air-tight alibi. He was a guest of the state at the time of the crime.

Shouldnt one of them have a cut? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31717000)

Find the one with a cut the shape of the glass?

Blood at the Scene (1)

BlueBoxSW.com (745855) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717004)

I've never though that blood at the scene means you were at the scene, or that you did a crime that was committed at that location.

Re:Blood at the Scene (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717102)

It is as good as any other circumstantial evidence.

Re:Blood at the Scene (2, Insightful)

Threni (635302) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717130)

You blood at the scene means you get to explain to the police how it got there. If your blood was in my kitchen, next to my wifes body, and there was evidence she fought her attacker, you don't think the police, having matched the mystery blood back to you, wouldn't want a quick word with you?

Re:Blood at the Scene (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717830)

Or that someone wants to frame you. You only need access to some "foreign blood". Hey, what about making a fake blood donation event?

Re:Blood at the Scene (2, Insightful)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 4 years ago | (#31718112)

Jesus. Please never be a juror.

The standard is beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant making up "any old story", with no corroboration, to explain real evidence the prosecution presents is not enough to remove the doubt from the evidence.

I'd laugh if the defendant claimed "uhh, someone must have planted it by stealing blood from a fake donation event". The prosecution had presented evidence the defendant was unable to effectively refute.

My retirement plan (1)

overshoot (39700) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717008)

Hmmm. This has possibilities. I always wondered how I could make a profit from having identical twin kids.

Seriously, they might be able to do a serological comparison but I doubt that the technology is there yet.

Re:My retirement plan (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 4 years ago | (#31718274)

I always wondered how I could make a profit from having identical twin kids.

Well, I'm not sure about the Profit! step, but maybe you can use the Human Mirror idea ( http://improveverywhere.com/2008/07/06/human-mirror/ [improveverywhere.com] ) as a starting point.

The clone wars (1)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717010)

Wait until I get some clones, then nothing will stop me from world domination.

Re:The clone wars (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717174)

Given the amazingly poor security of many law enforcement and medical databases, wouldn't it be easier to simply swap the data with some innocent sucker?

Defeating Gattaca (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717042)

So the solution to genetic privacy is for us all to clone ourselves!

Good thing we"ll have all those genegeneered crops to feed them clones.

Re:Defeating Gattaca (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31717088)

No, we don't need to clone ourselves, just mutate our DNA by exposing ourselves to radiation.

If my understanding of science is correct, we'll also get super-powers, which in turn will lead to us not having to turn to a life of crime.

Because we'll either be super-heroes or super-villains, and well, who needs to rob banks when you can take over the world?

 

Re:Defeating Gattaca (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31717698)

So the solution to genetic privacy is for us all to clone ourselves!

Yeah, if I could be cloned and change one thing physically about myself it would be my penis. I would want my clone to have a much smaller penis. It's been a burden I've carried with me a long time(literally) to have such a gigantic member. Women are usually afraid of it when they first see it and often times it causes a lot of pain and destruction.

Pretty much all Anon's have huge cocks. Or maybe we just act like it since we are anon. ;-)

That's not the real problem here (3, Insightful)

algormortis (1422619) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717084)

...a man suspected of drug-smuggling and sentenced to death...

I'm surprised nobody has said anything about this. Sentenced to death for smuggling drugs? That's more of a problem than twin's getting away with theft and... well... drug smuggling.

Re:That's not the real problem here (2, Informative)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717104)

If I recall correctly, death sentences for drug smuggling are pretty common in the region.

Re:That's not the real problem here (1)

AdmiralXyz (1378985) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717496)

China, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines and probably a bunch of other countries in the region carry the death penalty for drug smuggling, and have for decades. This is nothing new.

What happened to the rest? (1)

magus_melchior (262681) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717120)

I know that DNA testing was a huge breakthrough that solved a great many cases that were previously unsolvable, but it's not like police never got convictions before then. So why is this law enforcement organization apparently so dependent on DNA testing that they comparatively look like idiots when something like this foils the DNA evidence?

Surely they have other evidence at the crime scene, or in plain sight on the suspect(s). If one of the twins left blood, one of them was probably wounded by the broken glass. There may be glass particles in the perpetrator's clothing*, etc.

* Yes, I watched too much CSI...

Re:What happened to the rest? (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 4 years ago | (#31718062)

They didn't even do thorough DNA testing. There *ARE* DNA differences between identical twins. Certain sequences aren't stable, and either stretch or shrink with each cell division, to the point that by the time one is "adult" (before 12 years) it's possible to tell the difference between identical twins. But you need to be a lot more thorough than just testing at 12 sites (or whatever they use this year).

Re:What happened to the rest? (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 4 years ago | (#31718094)

What is with all these nonsensical comments implying that the police in this case haven't done any investigative work beyond DNA testing? Traditional investigative techniques didn't magically solve every case, plenty of times nothing of value could be found. Obviously investigators looked at the scene of the crime and the only clue they found was a blood sample, so what more do you think your old-time gumshoe can do with that?

I imagine a microscopic particle of glass embedded somewhere in two people's combined wardrobes would be almost impossible to find especially if they ever did laundry and it's not very good evidence anyway unless the source of the glass could be confirmed.

Re:What happened to the rest? (1)

orkysoft (93727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31718180)

I know that DNA testing was a huge breakthrough that solved a great many cases that were previously unsolvable, but it's not like police never got convictions before then. So why is this law enforcement organization apparently so dependent on DNA testing that they comparatively look like idiots when something like this foils the DNA evidence?

It's a bit weird that it can be used as the sole evidence at all. DNA testing is like comparing md5sums of files. Many different files map onto the same checksum, even if the file size doesn't match.

Surely they have other evidence at the crime scene, or in plain sight on the suspect(s). If one of the twins left blood, one of them was probably wounded by the broken glass. There may be glass particles in the perpetrator's clothing*, etc.

Good luck finding out which clothes the perp wore during the crime, especially when you don't know who the perp is.

Network Effects. (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717138)

DNA to find out if you've been at a crime-scene gets all the attention but what about family? Using genetics it is possible to narrow down whether or not someones DNA who is on file is a relative of someone's who is not. So, all of a sudden the police may have probable cause to investigate families instead of individuals. Privacy is an issue here, can I be compelled to add my DNA to a database because I happen to be in the same branch of genes as someone who committed a crime? And what is crime: with the radicalization of thought the Federalist Papers today would be filed under "Domestic Terrorism." Does this mean that something which arguably for the better can be nipped in the bud before it gets off the ground? To me, the only way I would accept full DNA profiling of an entire population is when law itself has no gray areas and is amendable to change. If you can't legally change then you need privacy to commit "crimes."

Had this occured in China, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31717142)

"In Malaysia last year, a man suspected of drug-smuggling and sentenced to death was released when the court could not prove whether it was he or his twin brother who committed the crime."

both would have executed

Re:Had this occured in China, (1)

zill (1690130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717228)

I feel sorry for their family.

They will be forced to pay the bullet fee twice.

Well, good. (2, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717156)

This is the way it's supposed to work. DNA is not a magic bullet (heh) for solving crimes.

So the Crown will have to use good old fashioned police work to prove the case, like finding the watch in either twin's possession and/or fingerprints on the broken glass. Even genetic twins have different fingerprints. If the Crown (or any other prosecutorial system based upon English Common Law) cannot do this, then they go free, as per the design of the system.

It's better to let a hundred guilty go free than to jail (or execute!) one innocent person.

--
BMO

Re:Well, good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31718106)

> It's better to let a hundred guilty go free than to jail (or execute!) one innocent person.

Says you! For every hundred of people who believe as you do, there are a thousand more who believe we should kill them all just to make sure.

Alternative (1)

Dracil (732975) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717254)

They BOTH did it.

Re:Alternative (5, Funny)

moteyalpha (1228680) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717388)

No, my theory is they are telling the truth. What they lied about ( by omission ) is that they are triplets and if they had found the third he would have admitted to the crime.

Re:Alternative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31717888)

Birth records might throw a wrench in that line of thought.

Just sayin'

KaDeWe heist suspects released because of twin DNA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31717304)

Here's a similar story from last year. I wonder if they are made up, because that's so unlikely.

http://www.thelocal.de/society/20090319-18121.html [thelocal.de]

This happened to me... (3, Interesting)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717332)

... not as defendant, but as a juror.

I served on a jury last summer for a case of armed home invasion. The victim, if you can call him that, was a multiply-convicted white crack user. The victim claimed the defendant forced his way into the defendant's house with a gun, as part of a dispute over the defendant's missing cell phone following a drug deal.

The defense attorney's goal was to convince us that there was no way to determine beyond a reasonable doubt whether the defendant committed the crime, or his brother. The police did a horribly sloppy job of gathering evidence, the DNA was so contaminated that while it matched the victim, it also had good odds of matching the defendant's brother or about 1 in 5 random people off the street. The victim lied on the stand several times and showed no reliability as an eyewitness, and all the other evidence (phone calls, evidence collected at defendant's house) pointed to *some* member of the defendant's family, but no way to know who.

So we found him not guilty. Kind of a shame since the defendant probably *was* a drug dealer, but no way to prove it wasn't his brother. And the kicker: if they bring the brother to trial, he can use the same defense.

Re:This happened to me... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31717398)

... not as defendant, but as a juror.

I served on a jury last summer for a case of armed home invasion. The victim, if you can call him that, was a multiply-convicted white crack user. ...

So we found him not guilty. Kind of a shame since the defendant probably *was* a drug dealer, but no way to prove it wasn't his brother. And the kicker: if they bring the brother to trial, he can use the same defense.

What is this "White Crack"... Your story is unbelievable because of this nonsense.
Also: "Kind of a shame since ... *was* a drug dealer" What's your problem with pharmacists?
You need to think before you post

Hurray for Malaysia! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31717392)

They acknowledged the absolute irreversibility of the death sentence, and that acknowledges that Man and his laws and courts are often incorrect, hateful or racist. Too much so to claim such power over another human being by claiming for their laws some kind of God-given right to murder. As if the Law was never wrong. As if Man, by invoking God enough, is made never wrong. Citing God in Law is not only wrong, it's a contradiction.

Yes, I've been waiting forever to use this: (1)

nukeade (583009) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717410)

When two people are on an elevator and one farts, they both know who did it.

Ooops!! I crapped my pants! (1)

AmigaHeretic (991368) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717532)

Unless they are like my grandpa. Farts? Hell he craps his pants sometimes and is completely oblivious to it.

It's actually worse than that (4, Informative)

ChrisCampbell47 (181542) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717552)

DNA has been getting relied on heavily lately to solve otherwise cold cases. States have started running crime scene evidence through DNA databases wholesale, and then running with whatever match they get, even if it's just a partial.

Think about it: if there's a one in a million chance that the DNA will match, and you have a 20 million person database, then you're going to get 20 matches. Now just find the guy who's most convenient to prosecute. Boom, instant cold case conversion!

DNA's Dirty Little Secret: a forensic tool renowned for exonerating the innocent may actually be putting them in prison
http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2010/1003.bobelian.html [washingtonmonthly.com]

Also:

New Rule Allows Use of Partial DNA Matches
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/25/nyregion/25dna.html [nytimes.com]

DNA Evidence Can Be Fabricated, Scientists Show
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/18/science/18dna.html [nytimes.com]

What worries me... (1)

Blazarov (894987) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717660)

What is troubling for me to understand is why was their DNA already in the police's database? Have they committed other crimes? Or is the answer as simple as "This took place in the UK"? I don't know about you, but I would be rather pissed if I'm on some database for no reason...

The Kray brothers would have loved this (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717912)

For folks that are familiar with Monty Python, the Piranha Brothers (fictional, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piranha_Brothers [wikipedia.org] were inspired by the Krays (real, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kray_brothers [wikipedia.org] ).

The Krays stayed out of prison for a long time by intimidating witnesses. DNA evidence cannot be intimidated, but given this case, one the brothers could commit a crime, without worrying about leaving DNA behind. Both would claim innocence. They could have called it the "Other Other Other Other Operation.

But the last I heard Reggie (Doug) was dead and Ronnie (Dinsdale) was in prison.

But would the Piranha Brother let death get in the way of committing crimes?

I know this one... (1)

mdemonic (988470) | more than 4 years ago | (#31718054)

they just have to ask what the other twin would have said if he was asked

From where? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31718104)

Authorise. Not Authorize.

That's nice, but... (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#31718124)

When are the courts going to get it through their heads that it doesn't take identical twins to make DNA tests fallible and utterly unsuited as sole evidence?

The obvious solution... (tongue in cheek)... (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 4 years ago | (#31718160)

... is to make being an identical twin illegal. Bang. Problem solved. Both are guilty of something.

Other differences in blood chemistry? (1)

mikael (484) | more than 4 years ago | (#31718220)

Surely, there are other tests using standard blood chemistry that could be performed? A standard annual blood test would test for a whole variety of things - glucose levels, hormone levels, antibody levels.

Wouldn't the brothers have different glucos levels, immune responses or ratios of antibodies?

Re:Other differences in blood chemistry? (1)

topham (32406) | more than 4 years ago | (#31718284)

Glucos varies constantly, so unless one developed a condition like Diabetes it won't help. As for the rest, you'd still have to prove it's sufficient to identify a person. If it hasn't been used to do so in the past it is unlikely to pass muster in court.

Never mind that most of the differences would have degraded in the sample to meaningless crap, DNA is pretty hardy stuff.

Don't go to Malaysia! (1)

pellik (193063) | more than 4 years ago | (#31718288)

"In Malaysia last year, a man suspected of drug-smuggling and sentenced to death..."

Wait, he was sentenced to death on suspicion of drug smuggling? If you are going to kill people because you think they might have committed a crime how DNA obfuscating the facts really make that much of a difference?

Look for the obvious mark of the evil twin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31718290)

The one with the goatee!

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?