A murder trial for a case in which police homed in on a suspect using genetic genealogy is heading to court, Wired reports. But it notes that genetic genealogy won't take center stage during the trial.
Police in Washington State arrested William Earl Talbott II last year for the 1987 rape and murder of Tanya Van Cuylenborg and murder of Jay Cook, a young Canadian couple that was on vacation there. BuzzFeed News reported at the time that police in Washington had worked closely with Parabon Nanolabs and identified Talbott as a suspect by matching crime scene DNA to one of his second cousins. Police then matched Talbott's DNA to that from the crime scene, it added.
Wired reports that jury selection has now begun in this trial, but that the attorneys on the case have agreed to treat the genetic genealogy approach used to home in on Talbott as any other tip to police. Detective Jim Scharf is only to explain in his testimony how the finding led the investigation to focus on Talbott, it adds.
"Our position has always been that the genealogy stuff is not relevant," Rachel Forde, Talbott's defense attorney, tells Wired. "This way we don't have to deal with all the other shiny bells and whistles. Neither us nor the state wanted this to be a three-week advertisement for a corporation."