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Addressing uncertain assumptions in DNA evidence evaluation


Evidential value of DNA mixtures is typically expressed by a likelihood ratio. However, selecting appropriate propositions can be contentious, because assumptions may need to be made around, for example, the contribution of a complainant's profile, or relatedness between contributors. A choice made one way or another disregards any uncertainty that may be present about such an assumption. To address this, a complex proposition that considers multiple sub-propositions with different assumptions may be more appropriate. While the use of complex propositions has been advocated in the literature, the uptake in casework has been limited. We provide a mathematical framework for evaluating DNA evidence given complex propositions and discuss its implementation in the DBLRTM software. The software simultaneously handles multiple mixed samples, reference profiles and relationships as described by a pedigree, which unlocks a variety of applications. We provide several examples to illustrate how complex propositions can efficiently evaluate DNA evidence. The addition of this feature to DBLRTM provides a tool to approach the long-accepted, but often impractical suggestion that propositions should be exhaustive within a case context.

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