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Court takes up question of arrestee DNA sampling

“A man wearing a hat and scarf and brandishing a gun had raped and robbed a 53-year-old woman in her home and then vanished into the night. Almost six years later, Alonzo King was arrested in a nearby county and charged with felony second-degree assault. Taking advantage of a Maryland law that allowed DNA tests following felony arrests, police took a cheek swab of King’s DNA which matched a sample from the 2003 Salisbury rape. King was convicted of rape and sentenced to life in prison. But then a Maryland court said they had to let him go. King was never convicted of the crime for which he was arrested and swabbed. Instead, he pled guilty to the lesser charge of misdemeanor assault, a crime for which Maryland cannot take DNA samples. The courts said it violated King’s rights for the state to take his DNA based on an arrest alone. The state Court of Appeals said King had “a sufficiently weighty and reasonable expectation of privacy against warrantless, suspicionless searches.” On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will try to balance the rights of Americans who have not been convicted of a major crime to keep their DNA out of the government’s hands against the government’s interest in closing cold cases and the rights of crime victims to finally see justice done.” Read the full article here

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