We wanted to at least understand the experts.
When the molecular biologist and geneticist who was the full-time lab director of Molecular World responsible for the collection and analysis of the DNA found at the crime scene, began to testify on the stand, I knew I was in trouble. Science was my least favorite subject in school.
He gave the background. Apparently, Mitochondrial DNA testing traces maternal lineage and is often used for ancient or degraded DNA including the kind that’s found inside a hair shaft, but it can’t identify a particular individual. The mitochondrial DNA profile the accused had was so common that one out of 11 Caucasian people are likely to share it.
The test on the hairs at the crime scene using mitochondrial DNA analysis also “couldn’t exclude” the accused, he said. They did exclude three other potential suspects, but the tests weren’t specific enough to point conclusively to the accused.
“We found only the major component reliable not the trace,” Chahal said.
The majority of the DNA found on the twine was linked to the accused after his blood samples were compared, Chahal said.
There was a one in 50 million chance that a randomly selected individual – someone other than the accused or one of his relatives – could have contributed to the majority DNA profile analysis developed from the twine, he testified.
Because of his thick accent, the Crown counsel Himmelman had him speak slowly and repeat things.
Dr. Chahal remained cool and unruffled throughout the three days of testimony including the 2 ½ days of cross-examination.
The Defence was relentless in his cross-examination. What we thought we had learned was shredded.
At one point again, the Judge said, “I’m having trouble understanding. This is very technical. I’ll just keep listening.”
By end of day the Judge wasn’t writing anymore.
If the Judge couldn't get it, understand it -- how were we suppose to master it?
It was hard not to feel stupid, inadequate - and ignorant.
“You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.
― Harlan Ellison
Human intelligence is the mental quality that consists of the abilities to learn from experience, adapt to new situations, understand and handle abstract concepts, and use knowledge to manipulate one’s environment.
Forgiveness remains curious. It does not panic in the face of a newness but sees new information as a continuing challenge. It rejects labels of ignorance and allows us to grow in not only the knowledge but wisdom in the face of new experiences.