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A month after the complex DNA-mixture evidence was tossed from the prosecution’s case, an upstate New York man was acquitted of murder by a judge.

Oral “Nick” Hillary, now 42, was accused of strangling his ex-girlfriend’s 12-year-old son Garrett Phillips in 2011. Hillary was indicted in 2014, and went on trial this month.

The prosecution’s case originally featured DNA-mixture interpretation produced by the probabilistic genotyping software called STRmix.

But Judge Felix Catena threw out that genetic evidence just before the bench trial began, finding it did not pass the threshold for scientific validity – and that it was “unduly prejudicial to the defendant.”

Another DNA-mixture software called TrueAllele was consulted by both defense and prosecution on the case – and its results distanced Hillary from the scene, among more than 100 samples collected from the apartment where the boy was killed.

The sample of most interest was the fingernail scraping from the boy’s left hand. TrueAllele found the analysis of the multiple-person DNA mixture was most exclusionary – but not conclusive. The STRmix software found Hillary in there – but the judge ruled he would not allow the expert to “pick and choose data from different ‘reliable sources,’” for the prosecutor.

Hillary asked for a bench trial on the second-degree murder charge, and the case began Sept. 12.

St. Lawrence County District Attorney Mary Rain, who vowed during a 2013 campaign for office to further investigate the case, told a news conference after the not-guilty verdict that she still believed Hillary to be guilty.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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