Crime-fighting tool or invasion of privacy? - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Crime-fighting tool or invasion of privacy?

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- If a Louisville lawmaker has her way, anyone arrested for a serious crime in Kentucky could be swabbed for their DNA. But what some are calling a crime-fighting tool, others are calling an invasion of privacy.

If you're arrested, authorities can already take your fingerprints. But they may soon be able to also take a sample of your DNA.

For Jayann Sepich, the issue is personal. She told a House committee the story of her daughter, Katie.

"And I have to tell you that the hardest moment of my life, was on that beautiful, cloudless September afternoon, and I had to leave my baby at the cemetery," she said.

In New Mexico, in 2003, Katie Sepich was raped, murdered, burned, and left in a garbage dump.

"I made the offhand comment to Detective Jones that this man was such a monster, that surely he would be arrested for another crime, they would swab his cheek, we would know who he was, and we would be able to bring him to justice and stop him from doing this to anyone else. And that's when Detective Jones said, 'no, Jayann, that's not the way it works.'"

Katie's killer was found three years later through a DNA match. A sample had been taken after he was convicted of burglary.

The experience led Jayann to fight for more widespread DNA testing, to include not just convicted felons, but also those arrested for serious crimes. She says a broader DNA database, would lead to quicker arrests and possible prevention of future crimes.

"Because that's what this is all about, saving lives and preventing pain."

But opponents says DNA testing of people not convicted of any crime, is an invasion of privacy and perhaps unconstitutional.

"So we've decided that if you're arrested, maybe you're not presumed innocent anymore at that point. This is about drawing a line," testified Ernie Lewis of the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. 

The bill's sponsor, Louisville Democrat Mary Lou Marzian says similar bills have passed in 25 states.

The committee passed the bill unanimously. It now goes to the full House for a vote. A twin DNA testing bill is being introduced in the Senate.

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