The New York Daily News reports that Hemant Megnath's New York criminal defense attorney, Todd Greenberg, will have to challenge the science behind "touch" DNA. This controversial method of obtaining DNA samples has been deemed admissible in his client's murder trial.
Supreme Court Justice Robert Hanophy was the first judge in the nation to approve the method, which would allow any DNA that was discovered through this practice to be seen as evidence during the trial.
Touch DNA testing is described by the Denver Post as a process in which "investigators extract samples from only a few cells left behind by a person who briefly touched an object, such as clothing." This is different from the more common form of DNA testing because the investigators do not rely on a stain to choose where to take the sample from. In addition to the more obvious places to seek out DNA sample, touch DNA allows the investigator to have other places scraped for DNA. For example, in the murder case of JonBenet Ramsey, the investigators tested the area on JonBenet's long johns where a person would have held them to pull them down. They were able to conclude that their method was sound when the DNA found there matched additional DNA evidence.
USA Today reports that while this method can open up a cold case, by offering the potential for new DNA evidence, touch DNA is still a relatively new practice. The New York Daily News reports that one of the flaws that opponents see in touch DNA is that by taking such small samples and magnifying them, they become distorted. Based on the outcome of this trial, more New York criminal defense attorneys may have to consider this method of collecting evidence.
By allowing this, a small spot of blood will be used as evidence in the trial that allegedly links Mr. Megnath to the inside of the victim's car.