Twin DNA Foil Investigators Again

Twin DNA Foil Investigators Again

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted March 21, 2009 in DNA and the Law

Two years ago, identical twin brothers Raymon and Richard Miller both had sex with the same woman who became pregnant. The court decided Raymon was the legal father although the DNA paternity test couldn’t provide definitive proof.

thieves In February, millions of dollars worth of jewelry was stolen in Berlin. Two of the suspects are identical (monozygotic) twins, Hassan and Abbas O. DNA analysis showed that one or both of them were probably at the scene of the crime but it’s impossible to tell. If only one of the brothers is guilty, investigators can’t tell for sure which one it is.

In reality, identical twins do not have perfectly identical DNA due to epigenomic chemical modifications and DNA copy number variations. But until more sophisticated DNA analyses become more widely available or other evidence comes to light, Hassan and Abbas are free and have not been charged. (Spiegel Online via Boing Boing)

Identical twins be forewarned. You may be able to get away with it now, but your time is coming.

NB: In Malaysia, investigators were unable to figure out which one of a pair of identical twins trafficked 166 kilograms of cannabis and 1.7 kilograms of opium. A judge dismissed the case and both twins were set free. (Telegraph)



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Comment by sandra soleil

These are such unusual cases; it just goes to show what a good lawyer can do.

Comment by Keith Robison

Do you have citations for the CNV and methylation differences between twins? The CNVs would be particularly interesting.

Related thought: have copy number variants been demonstrated between two “normal” samples from the same person? (i.e. ignoring cancer and trivial things like antibody rearrangements). Or CNV changes between generations?

Comment by Dave Morrison

What would King Solomon have done about these twin cases? If it were me, I’d tell the twins that we know one of them did it, so the two of them are going to have to just decide which one is going to jail. And if they can’t come up with a decision, then one will go for the crime, and the other will go for covering up the crime. I know there might be some legal problems with this solution though. Dave

Comment by Ryan Q Subscribed to comments via email

We had a case like the paternity one you mentioned. The court ended up using testimony from the woman regarding dates she had last slept with each twin. Then they used some conception date calculations to name a father. If you can’t be convicted of a crime, can you be named a father? It must have been a different attorney!

I LOVE your blog. I just started my own business blog for the company I work for. Yours definitely gives me something to aim for. Nice work!

Also, really enjoyed the chatter with the perfume lady “May”. Good Stuff.

Comment by Melanie Swan

Funny – suggests that twins are favorably predisposed to be successful at not getting convicted for crime. At least maybe until we get to proteome and methylation sequencing.

Comment by TigerTom

On a practical level, the ‘evil twin’ will eventualy trip himself up.

Crooks aren’t very clever. If they were, they wouldn’t go into a business where both your associates (other crooks, your family) _and_ your opposition (the police) can ruin you with a single ‘phone call.


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