With the addition of five new forensic labs, STRmix™ – the sophisticated forensic software used to resolve mixed DNA profiles previously thought to be too complex to interpret – is now being used by 43 federal, state, and local agencies in the U.S.
The five new agencies now using STRmix™ to resolve DNA profiles are:
- The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, which provides manpower and technical assistance to law enforcement agencies and conducts investigations on behalf of the state;
- The Colorado Bureau of Investigation, which performs forensic and laboratory services and criminal investigations at the request of local and state law enforcement, agencies, and district attorneys;
- Bode Cellmark Forensics, which serves the law enforcement and identification markets and provides both state-of-the-art human DNA analysis and innovative DNA collection products;
- Nebraska State Patrol, Nebraska's only statewide full-service law enforcement agency, serving the state since 1937; and
- University of Nebraska Medical Center Human DNA Identification Laboratory, which provides methods for determining the person of origin for biological specimens to resolve issues of parentage and suspected specimen misidentification, and provide physical evidence for law enforcement agencies and private attorneys.
“STRmix™ software has greatly improved the usability of DNA. Agencies, for example, are reporting an uptick of interpretable DNA in gun cases from approximately 40% to more than 70%," explains John Buckleton DSc, FRSNZ, Forensic Scientist at the New Zealand Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR). “As a result, evidence is available in a much higher fraction of criminal cases than in the past.”
Dr. Buckleton, who developed STRmix™ in collaboration with ESR’s Jo-Anne Bright and Duncan Taylor from Forensic Science South Australia (FSSA), adds, “We need to help labs, prosecutors, and defenders to achieve justice outcomes and avoid labs pumping through cases with uninterpretable results.”
According to Dr. Buckleton, this is particularly true with respect to sexual assault cases. Pointing out that labs increasingly are being asked to clear their Sexual Assault Kit backlogs, he notes, “Given the considerable resources being invested in materials and staff time to clear those backlogs, we need to help labs to increase the outcomes from their investment with a higher rate of interpretable results.”
To date, STRmix™ has been used successfully in numerous U.S. court cases, including 28 successful admissibility hearings. It is also in various stages of installation, validation, and training in more than 60 other U.S. labs.
Internationally, STRmix™ has been used to interpret DNA evidence in more than 100,000 cases since 2012. It is currently being used in all nine state and territory labs in Australia and New Zealand, as well as 11 forensic labs in England, Scotland, Ireland, Finland, Dubai, and Canada. The code for three versions of the software has now been independently examined and in all cases admitted.
STRmix™ Ltd. introduced a new version of the software, STRmix™ v2.6, in August 2018. The new version features a user interface that has been completely redeveloped and refreshed, providing users with vastly improved usability and workflow. Version 2.6 also enables a range of contributors to be entered when performing a deconvolution, and any type of stutter to be added and configured.