Who's Your Daddy? Paternity Battle Between Brothers
Judge Uses Old-Fashioned Detective Work to Determine Who the Father Is
By MARY KATHRYN BURKE
ABC News Law & Justice Unit
May 21, 2007
Twin brothers Raymon and Richard Miller are the father and uncle to a 3-year-old little girl. The problem is, they don't know which is which. Or who is who.
The identical Missouri twins say they were unknowingly having sex with the same woman. And according to the woman's testimony, she had sex with each man on the same day. Within hours of each other.
When the woman in question, Holly Marie Adams, got pregnant, she named Raymon the father, but he contested and demanded a paternity test, bringing his own brother Richard to court.
But a paternity test in this case could not help. The test showed that both brothers have over a 99.9 percent probability of being the daddy— and neither one wants to pay the child support. The result of the test has not only brought to light the limits of DNA evidence, it has also led to a three-year legal battle, a Miller family feud and a little girl who may never know who her real father is.
"'Did you sleep with him [Richard Miller] while in Sikeston for the rodeo?'," Cameron Parker, Richard's lawyer, said she asked Holly Marie Adams in 2003 court testimony, to which she answered "'Yes ma'am.'" "She then said she went to appellant's [Raymon Miller's]home where they had sex later that night or early the next morning," Parker said.
Asked if it is true that he did at one time formally date Adams, Richard Miller told ABC News, "Well, if you call that dating." Raymon confirms that he never dated Adams in any sense, but that they were "messing around."
Courtroom Double Trouble
As soon as Raymon was asked to pay child support, he demanded that he and his brother both take a paternity test. When the paternity test came back with the same results, he took the matter to the courts where Judge Fred Copeland ruled that even in light of the identical DNA tests and overlapping relationships, Raymon would remain the legal father of the child. Raymon hopes to continue appealing the decision.
"I want to go to the Supreme Court," Raymon told ABC News. "If they can't prove it's me then they should throw it out of court." And as for the child support, he said, "The state should eat it."
Miller contacted ABC News through the Law & Justice unit internet tipline. Copeland, however, notes that as the judge in the case, he does not have to depend solely on DNA evidence and can rule based on the testimony of Adams as well -- who believes she can nail down the date of conception to a night spent with Raymon.
"Look, she had a bunch of girlfriends to the rodeo and they got drunk and she went banging on Raymon's door trying to have sex," Copeland said. "He says he did reluctantly…but I can't imagine it was reluctantly — and that's when the baby was conceived I guess."
As for the mother, Holly Marie Adams just wants the whole battle to be over.
"We've been to court over and over and they always ruled the same way," Adams said. "We are tired. We are done with this."
Richard, while admitting that he had a sexual relationship with Adams, believes that there is no way that he is the father and said that his brother just doesn't want the financial burden of a child.
"Raymon's the one that done everything," Richard told ABC News. "He's the one that brought this to court. It's just him not wanting to pay child support. It's a big mess if you ask me."
The two brothers are not the only ones in an awkward situation. Jean Boyd, the mother of the twins (and the child's grandmother — they're sure she is the grandmother) has felt caught in the middle. "When this first happened I felt like I had gained a granddaughter but lost my sons," Boyd said. "The boys have been feuding and I can't choose between my kids." While Boyd sees her granddaughter regularly, she said the paternity confusion is what has kept her sons from the child. "Until they know that the daddy is the daddy and the uncle is the uncle, Raymon will never acknowledge the child. And Richard doesn't think it was his either…neither of them will have anything to do with her," Boyd added.
It seems, however, that the Millers and the courts will never know the true father.
"With identical twins, even if you sequenced their whole genome you wouldn't find difference…they're clones," said Dr. Bob Gaensslen, a forensic scientist at Orchid Cellmark labs in Texas. "There are a few things in science that are cut and dried and this is one of them."
Dr. Bob Giles, a paternity testing expert, agrees. "There is simply no test that explains the difference between two identical twins," he said.
More Like 50/50?
The final appellate court decision, filed this year, ruled that Raymon will remain the legal father. In Missouri, a paternity test must come back with 98 percent or higher probability that DNA matches in order for a man to be named the legal father.
"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. What if there was a rape or murder case with twins? Then they could just go around pointing the finger at the other," Ramon said.
But a paternity suit is very different from a criminal case, noted Lori Andrews, a top genetics lawyer.
"In a criminal case there is a chance that the twin would get off because the DNA cannot pinpoint only one person, but here there is a different issue. The legal standard is lower."
Copeland agrees that the case will not be going any further. "When DNA cannot be definitive you just go back to the same evidence that we used before," Copeland said. As for the nature of the case, Copeland said it is one of the stranger legal situations he's encountered. "When you are on the bench long enough though, you see a lot of strange things," he said.
As for the child support,Gaensslen has his own suggestion as to who should be paying. "Split it down the middle," he told ABC News. "They both played, so they should both pay."