An earlier version of this paper was presented by Dr. Bernet and Dr. Farahany at the 58th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, Seattle, WA, February 20–25, 2006.
Bad Nature, Bad Nurture, and Testimony Regarding MAOA and SLC6A4 Genotyping at Murder Trials*
Article first published online: 18 OCT 2007
Journal of Forensic Sciences
Volume 52, Issue 6, pages 1362–1371, November 2007
How to Cite
Bernet, W., Vnencak-Jones, C. L., Farahany, N. and Montgomery, S. A. (2007), Bad Nature, Bad Nurture, and Testimony Regarding MAOA and SLC6A4 Genotyping at Murder Trials. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 52: 1362–1371. doi: 10.1111/j.1556-4029.2007.00562.x
- Issue published online: 18 OCT 2007
- Article first published online: 18 OCT 2007
- Received 14 July 2006; and in revised form 24 Feb. 2007; accepted 29 April 2007; published 21 Dec. 2007.
- forensic science;
- monoamine oxidase gene;
- serotonin transporter gene;
- capital punishment;
- expert testimony
Abstract: Recent research—in which subjects were studied longitudinally from childhood until adulthood—has started to clarify how a child’s environment and genetic makeup interact to create a violent adolescent or adult. For example, male subjects who were born with a particular allele of the monoamine oxidase A gene and also were maltreated as children had a much greater likelihood of manifesting violent antisocial behavior as adolescents and adults. Also, individuals who were born with particular alleles of the serotonin transporter gene and also experienced multiple stressful life events were more likely to manifest serious depression and suicidality. This research raises the question of whether testimony regarding a defendant’s genotype, exposure to child maltreatment, and experience of unusual stress is appropriate to present during the guilt or penalty phases of criminal trials, especially when capital punishment is a consideration. The authors present their experience in genotyping criminal defendants and presenting genetic information at criminal trials.