A seemingly unrelated ruling in the Queens Supreme Court, released on Feb 8th 2010, presents difficulties to supporters arguing for Amanda Knox’s innocence. Knox supporters have claimed that results from a new type of DNA test entered into evidence in the Italian trial would not be accepted in US courts. However, it is this same type of DNA test that the Queens Supreme court issued its ruling on, a ruling that allowed results from the new DNA test to be admitted to the Queens trial. The testing is performed on a very tiny amount of DNA material and is called Low Copy Number (LCN) DNA testing, The Queens ruling establishes that results from LCN DNA testing can be entered in as evidence, and is the first challenge to LCN DNA testing in a US court. While the Queens ruling is only applicable in that jurisdiction, it does establish precedence and an argument for LCN DNA test results to be accepted at other trials in America.
The DNA test results presented at the Knox trial were key evidence that directly implicated Knox as participating in the murder. The victim’s DNA was found via LCN DNA testing on a knife found in the apartment of Knox’s boyfriend, and Knox’s DNA was found on the handle of the knife through a regular DNA test. Based on this, Knox was also found guilty of transferring a murder weapon, which added additional time onto her sentence.
The Queens ruling cites “Frye vs. the US” (1923) to determine criteria for acceptance; Frye “requires the proponent of new or novel scientific techniques to establish by sufficient evidence the general acceptance and reliability of the technique within the relevant scientific community”. The Queens ruling is that the LCN DNA procedure passes this test, and actually isn’t even a “new or novel” technique; merely a refinement of a generally accepted technique. It further states that while the defense may argue critiques of LCN DNA testing (interpretation issues, transferrence issues), these arguments “do not affect the admissibility of the evidence for trial purposes pursuant to Frye”.
The Queens Supreme Court is one of 62 in the state of New York, and is similar to circuit courts elsewhere. The highest court in the state of New York is called the “Court of Appeals”.