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Name: People v. Cua
Case #: A123756
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 01/03/2011

DNA evidence linking appellant to two murders was properly admitted. Appellant was convicted of the murders of a couple who employed him and from whom he had been embezzling. The convictions were partly based on DNA evidence found at the scene and in the victims’ car. On appeal, appellant challenged the scientific validity of the evidence and its introduction at trial. The court found the claims were forfeited for failure to object at trial, but nevertheless reached the claims in light of appellant’s ineffective assistance of counsel claim. As to the merits, the evidence was properly admitted. The court rejected appellant’s argument that the expert’s testimony concluding blood found in the victims’ car belonged to appellant was “scientifically invalid.” The court noted that now it is often possible to determine with near certainty if a biological sample matches a particular suspect. As to testimony about DNA evidence found at the crime scene, appellant alleged that there was “insufficient foundation” for evidence about random probability matches of someone with his profile because his racial group was not included. The statistics involved African-Americans, Caucasians, and Hispanics, and it was argued on appeal that appellant is Asian. The court reiterated that it is a “fallacy in the interpretation of DNA evidence … that the relevant ethnic or racial population in which to estimate a DNA profile frequency necessarily is that of the defendant.” In fact, the defendant’s ethnic or racial status plays a limited role. The relevant population sample consists of all people who might have been the source of the sample, and in most cases this is not people of defendant’s ancestry, but rather people of many ethnicities.” Moreover, there was no evidence presented at trial that appellant was Asian or Filipino or Native Hawaiian. Thus there was no error in admitting the evidence.