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Court denies Duquesne man’s motion to examine DNA program in homicide trial

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Michael Robinson was acquitted Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2017, on all counts related to a 2013 double homicide.

Pennsylvania Superior Court has denied defense attorneys a look inside a computer program used to link their client’s DNA to a death-penalty double-murder case.

Attorney Kenneth Haber, representing Michael Robinson, 29, of Duquesne, wanted Superior Court to compel Oakland-based Cybergenetics to release the source code for its “TrueAllele” program, which is used to calculate the probability that a particular person contributed to a mixed sample of DNA. Prosecutors say Robinson’s DNA was found on a bandana connecting him to the murders of Tyrone Coleman and Lawrence Short in Duquesne in 2013.

The Allegheny County District Attorney’s office, which hires Cybergenetics to assist on cases in which the county Medical Examiner’s office is unable to sort out mixed samples of DNA, is seeking the death penalty if Robinson is convicted of first-degree murder.

Common Pleas Judge Jill E. Rangos denied the defense access to the TrueAllele source code in February, in part because she said revealing it could expose Cybergenetics to copying by competing firms.

In March, Haber appealed that decision to Superior Court, which denied his request in a ruling issued late Thursday.

Another judge denied the same source code in the case of East Liberty double-murder suspect Allen Wade, but his attorneys dropped their appeal with the intention to try again if he is convicted. Wade’s trial begins May 2.

Haber was not available to comment Friday about whether he intends to appeal the Superior Court decision to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Robinson is scheduled for a jury trial June 6.

Matthew Santoni is a Tribune-Review staff writer.

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