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A comparison of likelihood ratios with and without assuming relatedness for DNA mixtures interpreted using a continuous model

Abstract

When evaluating support for the contribution of a person of interest (POI) to a mixed DNA sample, it is generally assumed that the mixture contributors are unrelated to the POI and to each other. In practice, there may be situations where this assumption is violated, for instance if two mixture contributors are siblings. The effect on the likelihood ratio of (in)correctly assuming relatedness between mixture contributors has previously been investigated using simulation studies based on simplified models ignoring peak heights. We revisit this problem using a simulation study that applies peak height models both in the simulation and mixture interpretation part of the study. Specifically, we sample sets of mixtures comprising both related and unrelated contributors and evaluate support for the contribution of the mixture donors as well as unrelated persons with and without incorporating an assumption of relatedness. The results show, consistent with earlier studies, that including a correct assumption of relatedness increases the capacity of the probabilistic genotyping system to distinguish between mixture donors and unrelated persons. Any effect of the relatedness is found to depend strongly on the mixture ratio. We further show that the results do not change materially when a sub-population correction is applied. Finally, we suggest and discuss a likelihood ratio approach that considers relatedness between mixture contributors using a prior probability.

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