Davis v. State

476 N.E.2d 127 (1985)

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Davis v. State

Indiana Court of Appeals
476 N.E.2d 127 (1985)

  • Written by Arlyn Katen, JD

Facts

A jury convicted Reed Davis and Mary Davis (defendants) of neglect of a dependent. On August 3, 1982, a male infant estimated to be a few hours old was found at the side of a road. Police received an anonymous call identifying the Davises as the infant’s parents. The prosecution (plaintiff) called Michael Conneally, a professor of medical genetics, to testify as an expert witness about the statistical likelihood that the Davises were the infant’s parents based upon a tissue-typing test and a series of blood tests for 20 separate genetic-marker systems (the 20-series test). Conneally testified that he looked at tables accepted by the scientific community to determine the frequency of each genetic marker among White people in Indiana. Conneally stated the statistical probability of each test result, and then combined the probabilities of both test results to explain that the odds were 518,000-to-one that the infant’s parents were the Davises rather than another random couple in Indiana. The Davises appealed their convictions. The Davises did not dispute the results of the tests; instead, they argued that Conneally’s statistical-probability calculations were unduly prejudicial and had a potentially exaggerated impact on the jurors. The Davises also argued that insufficient evidence supported their convictions.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Shields, J.)

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