When Mark Carver’s case went before North Carolina’s appellate courts, legal scholars hoped the judges would rule on the credibility of “touch DNA.” His was the first appellate case involving the technique.
But neither court ruled on that issue.
In a 2-1 decision in 2012, the majority of the N.C. Court of Appeals rejected the notion that Carver’s DNA could have gotten on Ira Yarmolenko’s car at any time other than when she died.
“Carver’s denial and the DNA’s contradiction thereof … are sufficient to establish that the DNA could only have been left at the time the offense was committed,” Judge Linda Stephens wrote.
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In his dissent, Judge Robert Hunter pointed out that Carver’s DNA was not found anywhere else and noted that touch DNA was “relatively new and not as accurate.”
“The only evidence indicating the defendant left the touch DNA on the car at the time of the murder is that he happened to be fishing near the location where the victim was found,” Hunter wrote. “There is no other evidence tying the defendant to the crime scene.”
In 2013, the N.C. Supreme Court affirmed the lower ruling without comment.