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Using the Nondonor Distribution to Improve Communication and Inform Decision Making for Low LRs from Minor Contributors in Mixed DNA Profiles

Abstract

The reporting of a likelihood ratio (LR) calculated from probabilistic genotyping software has become more popular since 2015 and has allowed for the use of more complex mixtures at court. The meaning of “inconclusive” LRs and how to communicate the significance of low LRs at court is now important. We present a method here using the distribution of LRs obtained from nondonors. The nondonor distribution is useful for examining calibration and discrimination for profiles that have produced LRs less than about 104. In this paper, a range of mixed DNA profiles of varying quantity were constructed and the LR distribution considering the minor contributor for a number of nondonors was compared to the expectation given a calibrated system. It is demonstrated that conditioning genotypes should be used where reasonable given the background information to decrease the rate of nondonor LRs above 1. In all 17 cases examined, the LR for the minor donor was higher than the nondonor LRs, and in 12 of the 17 cases, the 99.9 percentile of the nondonor distribution was lower when appropriate conditioning information was used. The output of the tool is a graph that can show the position of the LR for the person of interest set against the nondonor LR distribution. This may assist communication between scientists and the court.

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