Judge: DNA not admissible in trial of Dover man


DOVER — Due to the uncertain nature of test results, some DNA evidence in the case of a Dover man charged with attempted murder in May 2015 is not admissible at trial, a judge determined in an opinion issued on Wednesday.

Rakim A. Strickland, of the 600 block of River Road, is accused of shooting an 18-year-old man in the Capital Green housing complex on May 15, 2015, according to authorities.

05dsn Rakim Strickland

A state DNA expert reportedly concluded that DNA found on a shotgun had a 50 percent chance of wrongfully including Mr. Strickland as a possible source because he is an African American.

Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Clark concluded that even if the findings were explained at trial, they could become confusing and unfairly prejudice Mr. Strickland’s case before the jury determining his innocence or guilt.

“In other words, as opposed to low statistical significance, this evidence has no statistical significance,” Judge Clark wrote in his ruling.

The DNA expert’s determination that three or more people, including one male, handled the gun can be admitted, according to Judge Clark; he decided the information had some relevance that while is “not particularly high, such an opinion can be structured and presented in such a way and clarified through cross examination that it would be unlikely to confuse the jury or unfairly prejudice the defendant.

“The nature of such an opinion based on reliable scientific findings will be easily understood by the jury …”

Other charges against Mr. Strickland include possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, possession of firearm/ammunition by person prohibited (two counts), criminal mischief and first-degree criminal trespass.

The trial is scheduled for Monday.

Mr. Strickland was taken into custody on June 8, 2015, and is currently being held at Sussex Correctional Institution in Georgetown. He was indicted on Sept. 8, 2015.

Deputy Attorney General Jason Cohee is prosecuting the case for the state, with attorneys Ronald Phillips and Julianne Murray representing Mr. Strickland.

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