Senate Passes Expansion of Dna Databank

Kenneth P. LaValle

June 16, 2011

New York State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle (R,C,I – Port Jefferson) said the Senate passed a bill (S.5560) today that significantly expands the ability of law enforcement to solve crimes by requiring those convicted of all felonies and misdemeanors to submit DNA samples.

The measure is supported by the District Attorneys across the state, crime victims’ advocates and Governor Andrew Cuomo.

“This  bill would greatly enhance the DNA database and protect communities by keeping more criminals off the streets, while also reducing the financial costs and victims’ emotional strain by solving more crimes in an expeditious manner,” said LaValle,  “for New Yorkers throughout the state, this legislation will provide an additional layer of safety.”

Since its creation in 1996, the state’s DNA databank has transformed criminal investigations and prosecutions to make them more accurate and effective, as well as helped to exonerate the innocent. However, DNA is only collected in approximately 46 percent of crimes because current law does not include the collection of DNA from all those convicted of crimes, such as some misdemeanors. This has reduced law enforcement’s ability to resolve investigations as quickly and enabled some criminals to remain free to commit more crimes, sometimes with devastating consequences.

For instance, it took approximately six years for Curtis Tucker to be arrested and arraigned for the 2004 attempted murder and attempted rape of a 14-year-old girl in her Harlem apartment building. Following the Harlem attack, Tucker was subsequently convicted of two misdemeanor crimes, and, more recently of felony burglary against a 74-year-old man who was afflicted with Parkinson's disease. But it was not until the burglary conviction that Tucker's prior criminal convictions were eligible for DNA collection. If DNA was required upon conviction for all crimes, law enforcement would have solved the 2004 rape much sooner and potentially prevented the 2010 burglary of the elderly man.

Another series of crimes involving Raymon McGill could have been prevented had the DNA database been expanded to include all crimes, including his 1999 petit larceny conviction. In January 2000,  an elderly woman was raped in her home, followed by a March 2000 incident where a woman was raped and murdered in her home.  DNA evidence recovered at both scenes was from the same, unknown perpetrator.  In January 2004, a man was found in his home, beaten and shot to death and, again, the DNA was the same.  In March 2005, Raymon McGill was convicted of a robbery that required him to provide a DNA sample; that sample hit on all three of the above crimes.  Had his DNA been in the databank from the 1999 petit larceny conviction, McGill could have been detected following the January 2000 crime and the subsequent crimes could have been prevented.

The bill has been sent to the Assembly.