The Second Department, reversing defendant’s conviction and ordering a new trial, determined either the DNA evidence should have been precluded, or a Frye hearing should have been held for DNA evidence derived using the Forensic Statistical Tool (FST):
Prior to trial, the defendant moved to preclude evidence sought to be introduced by the People regarding DNA testing derived from the use of the Forensic Statistical Tool (hereinafter FST), or alternatively, to conduct a hearing pursuant to Frye v United States (293 F 1013 [DC Cir]) to determine the admissibility of such evidence. The Supreme Court denied the defendant’s motion, finding that FST was generally accepted in the scientific community.
Based upon the recent determinations by the Court of Appeals in People v Foster-Bey (_____ NY3d _____, 2020 NY Slip Op 02124) and People v Williams (_____ NY3d _____, 2020 NY Slip Op 02123), we find that it was an abuse of discretion as a matter of law for the Supreme Court to admit the FST evidence without first holding a Frye hearing “given [the] defendant’s showing that there was uncertainty regarding whether such proof was generally accepted in the relevant scientific community at the time of [the defendant’s] motion” … . Additionally, we find that the error was not harmless … . Without this forensic evidence, proof of the defendant’s guilt was not overwhelming as the only additional evidence linking the defendant to the weapon was the testimony of a lay witness which was circumstantial in nature. People v Pelt, 2020 NY Slip Op 03250, Second Dept 6-10-20