Acceptance of domestic cat mitochondrial DNA in a criminal proceeding

Forensic Sci Int Genet. 2014 Nov;13:61-7. doi: 10.1016/j.fsigen.2014.07.007. Epub 2014 Jul 15.


Shed hair from domestic animals readily adheres to clothing and other contact items, providing a source of transfer evidence for criminal investigations. Mitochondrial DNA is often the only option for DNA analysis of shed hair. Human mitochondrial DNA analysis has been accepted in the US court system since 1996. The murder trial of the State of Missouri versus Henry L. Polk, Jr. represents the first legal proceeding where cat mitochondrial DNA analysis was introduced into evidence. The mitochondrial DNA evidence was initially considered inadmissible due to concerns about the cat dataset and the scientific acceptance of the marker. Those concerns were subsequently addressed, and the evidence was deemed admissible. This report reviews the case in regards to the cat biological evidence and its ultimate admission as generally accepted and reliable. Expansion and saturation analysis of the cat mitochondrial DNA control region dataset supported the initial interpretation of the evidence.

Keywords: Admissibility; Control region; Feline; Felis silvestris catus; Forensic science; Hair.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Legal Case
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cats / genetics*
  • DNA Fingerprinting / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics*
  • Forensic Sciences / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Hair / ultrastructure
  • Homicide / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microsatellite Repeats
  • Missouri
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA*


  • DNA, Mitochondrial