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Morris rape case: 1 in 320 quadrillion chance it's someone else's DNA, too, expert says

TAMPA — A state expert laid out the odds Wednesday that someone other than teenager Kendrick Morris could have left behind DNA during the rape of a 62-year-old Clair-Mel woman.

The odds: 1 in 320 quadrillion.

Erika Smith, who tested the DNA for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, said that's the probability another African-American has the same DNA profile as Morris. There is even less of a chance of finding an exact match in Caucasian and Hispanic populations.

How many zeros are in a quadrillion, prosecutor Michael Sinacore asked her.

Fifteen, she said.

How many people live on planet Earth, he asked?

About 6.5 billion, she ventured.

"That DNA," fellow prosecutor Rita Peters told jurors earlier in the week, "was all that it took to link that boy, that man to the attack."

Prosecutors say Morris' DNA also links him to the 2008 brutal rape of a teenage girl at the Bloomingdale Regional Public Library.

Morris, now 19, is on trial this week over a rape that occurred at a day care center 10 months earlier, in the summer of 2007.

In opening statements Tuesday, the defense suggested that the DNA was contaminated.

On Wednesday, defense attorneys questioned state witnesses about sperm found in an oral swab. The victim reported no oral assault. The key DNA evidence came from swabs of other areas, the FDLE expert testified.

But the victim did say the suspect covered her mouth with a glove after he had raped her.

Smith said the DNA could have been transferred to the swab that way. When asked by a defense attorney whether it could also have been put there by contamination, Smith said that it was a possibility.

The defense cross-examined the analyst for an hour and a half about the possibility of human error and the idea that analysis requires interpretation. Assistant public defender Maria Pavlidis asked multiple questions about the integrity of the DNA samples.

But Smith maintained that Morris was a match.

Morris decided Wednesday not to testify in his defense.

Attorneys are expected to deliver closing statements Thursday. Then, the jury will begin to deliberate.

Alexandra Zayas can be reached at azayas@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3354.

Morris rape case: 1 in 320 quadrillion chance it's someone else's DNA, too, expert says 09/01/10 [Last modified: Thursday, September 2, 2010 1:06am]
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