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Mosaic trisomy 20 and mitigation in capital crimes sentencing: A review and case report

Abstract Trisomy 20 is a genetic abnormality in which individuals have an extra copy of chromosome 20. Complete trisomy 20 is rare and believed to be incompatible with life. A mosaic form of trisomy 20, in which only some cells or tissues contain the extra chromosome, is a relatively commonly encountered chromosomal abnormality found during prenatal testing, and c. 90% result in a normal phenotype. However, despite the absence of a consistent phenotype, certain findings have been reported across multiple cases of mosaic trisomy 20. These include an array of morphological findings, developmental delays, and learning disabilities. Beyond physical manifestations, a wide range of developmental and learning delays have also been reported. In this work, we provide an overview of the trisomy 20 literature and a case report of a young adult male with mosaic trisomy 20 who committed homicide. His developmental and life history, eventual diagnosis of mosaic trisomy 20, similarities and differences in his condition compared with prior research findings, and potentially new phenotypic findings associated with trisomy 20 that he manifested (childhood visual hallucinations, self‐injury, polydactyly) are presented. Additionally, the potential role of this genetic diagnosis in his neuropsychiatric history and its successful application as a mitigating factor at his capital sentencing trial are described. We did not identify other similar cases during our search of major scientific and legal databases. As a backdrop, the use of genetics in criminal trials is on the rise, and courts are increasingly likely to accept behavioral genetics evidence; therefore, it is crucial that the legal system is well acquainted with the opportunities and limitations of these approaches.

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