ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE
Marce Gonzalez, Jr. Jeffrey A. Modisett
Appellate Public Defender Attorney General of Indiana
Andrew L. Hedges
Deputy Attorney General
RODERIC EUGENE INGRAM, ) Defendant-Appellant, ) ) v. ) 45S00-9608-CR-560 ) STATE OF INDIANA, ) Plaintiff-Appellee. )
APPEAL FROM LAKE SUPERIOR COURT The Honorable Richard Conroy, Judge Cause No. 45G03-9508-CF-00175_________________________________________________
The defendant, Roderic Ingram, was convicted of rape,See footnote 1 1 a class A felony, and criminal confinement,See footnote 2 2 a class D felony, and was adjudicated a habitual offender. He was sentenced to thirty years on the rape charge, enhanced by thirty years, and two years on
the confinement charge, to run concurrent to the rape sentence.
In this direct appeal, the defendant's sole contention is that the trial court erred in admitting evidence of PCR (polymerase chain reaction) DNA analysis which identified the defendant's DNA as being consistent with the semen and pubic hair samples taken from the victim.
We have held that DNA evidence is not automatically admissible. Harrison v. State, 644 N.E.2d 1243, 1251 (Ind. 1995). Under Indiana Evidence Rules 403See footnote 3 3 and 702(b),See footnote 4 4 before expert scientific evidence may be admitted in Indiana, the trial court must be satisfied that: (1) the scientific principles upon which the expert testimony rests are reliable; (2) the witness is qualified; and (3) the testimony's probative value is not substantially outweighed by the dangers of unfair prejudice. Id. at 1252.
The defendant in the present case contends that the trial court erred in its determination that the scientific principles upon which the PCR/DNA type of analysis rests were reliable. The decision of the trial court as to reliability under Indiana Evidence Rule 702(b) will be reviewed for abuse of discretion. McGrew v. State, 682 N.E.2d 1289, 1292 (Ind. 1997). As we have recently noted, In determining reliability,
while various factors have been identified,See footnote 5
there is no specific 'test' or set of 'prongs'
which must be considered in order to satisfy Indiana Evidence Rule 702(b). Id.
Carl Sobieralski, a forensic DNA analyst with the Indiana State Police,See footnote 6 6 testified that two types of DNA testing, PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and RFLP (restriction fragment length polymorphism), are used. He explained that the Indiana State Police Laboratory has chosen PCR testing because it can utilize smaller amounts of DNA than RFLP. This is because, in PCR, the DNA is amplified--kind of like cloning. Record at 361. Also, because PCR works with smaller pieces of the DNA, the DNA does not have to be in as good a condition as is required for accurate results with RFLP. Record at 361.
The State then sought to admit the results of Sobieralski's PCR/DNA testing. The trial court ruled that, while RFLP has already been found [reliable] by the Indiana Supreme Court, the court needed further foundation on PCR. It may be the same foundation as for [RFLP] testing, but I want to make sure that [PCR] testing is now approved in the scientific community as a valid way of testing for DNA. Record at 371.
Record at 374-75. The narrative was interrupted by the defendant's objection. When the
State continued, it asked Sobieralski whether the criminal justice field [was] the only
field that PCR DNA testing is used in? Record at 376. Sobieralski responded, It's used
in quite a range of fields. It's used in diagnostics for hospitals, research work involving
proteins that involves every aspect of biology right now is looking toward PCR actually.
Record at 377. The State asked whether the PCR method of DNA testing [is] seen as
reliable in the scientific community, to which Sobieralski responded, Yes, it is.
Record at 377.
At trial, the defendant argued that no basis was shown as to why what was developed as a diagnostic test, specifically it was used in Amniocentesis to determine whether there was perhaps a genetic problem with an unborn child, . . . [is now used] forensically. Record at 377-78. The court ruled that this specific information was not
necessary for a foundation, but told the defendant that he could cross-examine the
witness if he wanted. The defendant did not cross-examine the witness and conceded that
the type of foundation he was requesting was not required for foundation for RFLP/DNA
testing. The trial court ruled that, on the basis of Sobieralski's testimony, PCR analysis
for DNA purposes is accepted in the scientific community, and, therefore, the
foundation was laid. Record at 382.See footnote 7
We find that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding that a proper foundation had been established as to the scientific principles of PCR analysis of DNA.See footnote 8 8 We affirm the trial court in all respects.
SHEPARD, C.J., and SULLIVAN, SELBY, and BOEHM, JJ., concur.
Converted by Andrew Scriven