Riddle Me This: When Does a DNA-Test Result With 99.9% Certainty Not Prove Paternity?

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When you and your identical twin brother had sex with the same woman on the same day.

Holly Adams named Raymon Miller as the father of her child, but he contests that, even though he admits he slept with Adams. He knew or suspected, apparently, that his brother Richard might be the real culprit, since as soon as he was asked to pay child support, “he demanded that he and his brother both take a paternity test.”

But he had forgotten, apparently, that he and his brother are identical twins. Identical twins are identical, it turns out, because they have the same DNA. “They’re clones,” said a forensic scientist quoted by ABC News. “Even if you sequenced their whole genome, you wouldn’t find [a] difference.” (I wish he hadn’t used the C-word.  The panic in Missouri when they find out there are “clones” loose in their state is going to make “War of the Worlds” look like an episode of “Crank Yankers.”) The test results accordingly showed that both Raymon and Richard have a 99.9% chance of being the baby’s father.

Raymon and Richard Miller -- identical twins in paternity suit

At least they don’t dress the same way

Since both of them are 99.9% sure they don’t want to pay any child support, court proceedings followed. Adams maintains that Raymon is the father, although he seems to have been the second cowboy at the rodeo. “Did you sleep with [Richard] while in Sikeston for the rodeo?” Richard’s lawyer asked Adams in her 2003 deposition. “Yes ma’am,” Adams replied. She testified that she then went to Raymon’s house, where she stayed the night and did what you do for fun in Missouri when the rodeo’s over. Adams argues that Raymon is the father, and Judge Fred Copeland ultimately sided with her, in a decision that has been affirmed on appeal.

Judge Copeland told ABC that he does not have to rely solely on DNA evidence (and obviously can’t in this case), and that he can take Adams’ testimony into account when determining paternity. The report did not say what the basis was for her belief that Raymon is the father, and Judge Copeland’s summary for ABC was not too reassuring: “Look,” he said, “she had a bunch of girlfriends to the rodeo and they got drunk and she went banging on Raymon’s door trying [successfully] to have sex. He says he did reluctantly—but I can’t imagine it was reluctantly—and that’s when the baby was conceived I guess.” Gentlemen of Missouri, please be aware that “I guess” is the standard in paternity suits in your state, and act accordingly.

Raymon ain’t happy about it, that’s for sure. “I want to go to the Supreme Court,” he said, in a statement that likely thrilled the Supreme Court. “If they can’t prove it’s me then they should throw it out of court.” Who should pay the child support? “The state should eat it,” he concluded.

He also offered his own legal analysis of the situation.

“They say you have to prove with 98 percent certainty that you’re the father. But since with my brother it’s a 99 percent chance and with me it’s a 99 percent chance—that seems like more of a 50/50.” (That sure sounds wrong, but if I think about it too much I’m afraid my head will explode.) He continued, “What if there was a rape or murder case with twins?  Then they could just go around pointing the finger at the other.” That’s an excellent argument, combining the rhetorical power of a policy argument (we must not grant immunity to roving pairs of identical-twin rapists) with reverse psychology, since I think his argument establishes exactly why they can’t both walk away from this and the law needs to pick one. I think before Raymon makes the leap to law school, he should start with a more attainable goal, like figuring out what happened to the “D” at the end of his name.

Richard, meanwhile, at least for now is basking in the knowledge that he will not have to pay, which he thought was fair. “Raymon’s the one that done everything,” he said. Well, not everything, RichardThat’s the whole problem.