PDA

View Full Version : Legal Accused serial killer snared using controversial technique


luv
07-14-2010, 12:23 PM
Just wanted to get your thoughts on familial DNA testing.


http://www.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/07/08/familial.dna/index.html?iref=allsearch

(CNN) -- Los Angeles police are saying they've arrested a serial killer known as the Grim Sleeper using familial DNA, or the comparison of one's unique genetic code with a relative's unique code.

Police say they found the man accused of killing 11 people -- in murders dating back to 1985 -- by comparing DNA found at some of the crime scenes with the DNA of the suspect's son, who was in a California lock-up. The son's DNA led them to the father, and police are sure they've solved the case.

Familial DNA is a controversial crime-solving method.

Proponents say it helps police identify suspects who wouldn't be on the radar of the police, people who have never been arrested.

Critics argue the use of familial DNA is a violation of privacy. They contend that relying on that type of testing can bring scrutiny to innocent people simply because they are related to a suspect.

Defenders say it's a tool that can point police in the right direction.

"Familial DNA testing is a solid first step grounded in biology, statistics and genetics that leads you to a suspect which traditional investigative work can seal," said Mitch Morrissey, the district attorney of Denver, Colorado, and a nationally outspoken proponent of familial searches.

On Wednesday, LAPD announced it had arrested the man they believe is the Grim Sleeper, 57-year-old Lonnie David Franklin Jr.

The serial killer was nicknamed the "Grim Sleeper" because of a 12-year break between murders -- and then began to kill again.

The killer left his DNA either on victims' bodies or at the scene itself.

In 2009, LAPD Det. Dennis Kilcoyne, who led a special unit assigned to find the Grim Sleeper, expressed frustration with knowing who the killer was, but only in a language of numbers and dashes.

"We've got this beautiful DNA profile -- all these dashes and dots, and this and that, but there's no name to go with it," Kilcoyne said. For years, the detectives followed leads the traditional way.

Then, in 2008, California Attorney General Jerry Brown approved running familial searches through the state's DNA databank, the third-largest in the world with 1.5 million genetic fingerprints of state felons.

Then, last month, police said they found Franklin by running a random comparison search throughout the California prison system, which keeps prisoners' DNA. That search led detectives to Franklin's son Christopher, who had been convicted on a weapons charge.

"Here was a scenario where you had science and old-fashioned police work solving a crime," said Morrissey.

For the past several years, he has publicly urged the FBI to expand its capacity to search for familial matching in its Combined DNA Index System.

CODIS, as it's commonly known, contains more than 8.3 million offender profiles and 319,601 forensic profiles as of May, the FBI's website said.

The FBI has resisted collecting familial DNA, as have states except for California and Colorado, because there is fear that there would be a backlash by civil rights groups over privacy, said Jeffrey Rosen, a law professor at Georgetown University Law School.

Rosen wrote a comprehensive examination of the issue for Slate, the online newsmagazine. He explains the FBI is concerned that if it began collecting familial DNA from arrestees, the backlash could jeopardize its efforts to keep DNA samples from convicted felons.

Rosen says California is now being challenged in court for obtaining and testing familial DNA from people who are arrested.

"The state is really pushing the envelope legally," he said. "If you're convicted, then there's an understanding that you have limited your rights to privacy. To merely be arrested, some argue you should be able to maintain that privacy.

"The legal side of the issue is interesting, but it's paramount to keep in mind that familial DNA is not a panacea to solving crime. It very rarely leads to solving cases," said Rosen.

"You can consider the success rate in Great Britain, a country that is, worldwide, a leader in this method of investigation."

The European Court of Human Rights has maintained that keeping the DNA of people who are merely arrested is a violation of privacy, said Rosen.

Since 2004, British authorities have conducted dozens of investigations using familial DNA -- at least 70 searches, yielding 18 matches and 13 convictions. According to Rosen, the success rate is estimated around 10 percent.

"That's a low number, but when you're talking about violent cases or high-profile cases, any match is a worthwhile effort," said Hank Greely, a Stanford University Law School professor. Greely is considered a national expert on the ethical implication of DNA testing.

He points to a fiery controversy concerning familial testing -- racial profiling.

The CODIS databank is disproportionately filled with African-Americans, said Greely.

"Race is a big issue; it's a legitimate question to address, and it's a troubling fact," he said. "We can talk all day long about why it is that more African-Americans are arrested, but the fact is that the database reflects that. Inevitably that means familial DNA matching will net more African-Americans than any other group of people.

"This a very hot conversation to be having," he said. "And I'm sure this Grim Sleeper case is only going to bring that on like we've never experienced it before in California."

HonestChieffan
07-14-2010, 12:26 PM
Screw the critics if the guy is the one, reserve the chair for him and feed him rice krispys.

mlyonsd
07-14-2010, 12:34 PM
WTF? A luv thread in DC?

You'll get a reputation this way.

Brock
07-14-2010, 12:36 PM
It's how they caught Dennis Rader too.

go bowe
07-14-2010, 01:05 PM
i'm all for it...

catching violent criminals is always a good thing and whatever privacy intrusion there might be is outweighed by the public interest in catching criminals...

ClevelandBronco
07-14-2010, 01:11 PM
i'm all for it...

catching violent criminals is always a good thing and whatever privacy intrusion there might be is outweighed by the public interest in catching criminals...

I'll have to think more about the issue of familial DNA, but I have to say that I'm taken aback by your statement. "Always a good thing" that justifies "whatever privacy intrusion"? Scary stuff.

vailpass
07-14-2010, 01:12 PM
i'm all for it...

catching violent criminals is always a good thing and whatever privacy intrusion there might be is outweighed by the public interest in catching criminals...

Yes. The needs of the many must outweigh the needs of the few.

go bowe
07-14-2010, 01:17 PM
Yes. The needs of the many must outweigh the needs of the few.somehow that doesn't sound too good...

isn't that from marx or lenin or one of those guys?

healthpellets
07-14-2010, 01:19 PM
If the son's conviction did not involve DNA evidence, the state had no reason to collect it otherwise.

Here is where it's going to get interesting:

Son is convicted of a couple felony drug charges, and sentenced to 10 years in CA prision. John's DNA is extracted and kept on file with CA.

Father is accused of a string of rapes, based on the partial DNA profile obtained through CA's collection of DNA, coming from his Son.

Son's convictions are overturned on appeal, and he is set free.

Does CA get to prosecute Father for the rapes using the DNA match even though the convictions which allowed them to get the DNA for the partial profile are now null and void?

Hell no, imo. But I have no doubt that the current SCOUTS would see it much differently.

--------------------

On the issue of collecting DNA from prisoners, you can end up with a similar results.

Chris is convicted of selling guns. Goes to CA prison where they collect his DNA. Chris appeals his conviction and eventually it is overturned. However, a cold case squad runs some DNA through the system and it matches with Chris' DNA collected for his now overturned conviction. Should the state be able to use that as evidence?

-------------------

One final point. I never did look in to CA Prop 69 until today. That the State can collect your DNA and store it in their repository simply if you are ARRESTED for a felony is sickening. But it gets worse. The state can RETROACTIVELY seek the DNA of people previously arrested for felonies and demand their DNA sample.

Reason #139003910 I'm glad I don't live in CA.

healthpellets
07-14-2010, 01:21 PM
i'm all for it...

catching violent criminals is always a good thing and whatever privacy intrusion there might be is outweighed by the public interest in catching criminals...

Jose Padilla would like to have a word with you....

ClevelandBronco
07-14-2010, 01:25 PM
somehow that doesn't sound too good...

isn't that from marx or lenin or one of those guys?

Close enough.

http://www.bps-ok.org/kane/trek_teachers/Mr_Spock.jpg

Garcia Bronco
07-14-2010, 03:09 PM
It won't stand up in a court. It's not his DNA period. The forensic people will tell you of some ratio and why the results are "MOST likely" correct.

healthpellets
07-14-2010, 03:44 PM
It won't stand up in a court. It's not his DNA period. The forensic people will tell you of some ration and why the results are "MOST likely" correct.

their not going to use the partial DNA to convict him. the cops are going to use HIS DNA to convict him.

after they figured out through the partial DNA who their man possibly was, they stalked him, and then recovered his DNA in the trash somewhere.

ForeverChiefs58
07-14-2010, 04:03 PM
It won't stand up in a court. It's not his DNA period. The forensic people will tell you of some ration and why the results are "MOST likely" correct.

yeah but once he is arrested for it, his own DNA will be put on file and can be used against him then.

Garcia Bronco
07-14-2010, 04:06 PM
yeah but once he is arrested for it, his own DNA will be put on file and can be used against him then.

From that perspective, it's fair game I suppose.

orange
07-14-2010, 04:09 PM
Close enough.

http://www.bps-ok.org/kane/trek_teachers/Mr_Spock.jpg

That was his human half talking. REAL Spock would have cited the math.

healthpellets
07-14-2010, 04:33 PM
yeah but once he is arrested for it, his own DNA will be put on file and can be used against him then.

but should they have even been looking in his direction in the first place?

Huffmeister
07-14-2010, 04:45 PM
For me, it seems like it's just one more piece of data that must be considered when investigating a case.

Should the father be arrested based solely on the son's DNA? Absolutely not.

Should the father be considered a "person of interest" based solely on the son's DNA? Absolutely.

Should the father be forced to give a DNA sample based on the son's DNA? That's a gray area for me, but I would have to lean towards "no". Now that the father is a "person of interest", follow the existing legal channels to build a case.

If the science is sound, and more importantly the courts rule that the science is sound, it seems absolutely ridiculous to force law enforcement to ignore data that may solve a case.

luv
07-14-2010, 05:38 PM
I believe that familial DNA searches should be allowed to be used in order to narrow down suspects. However, I do not believe that it should be admissible evidence. Once they have their suspects, they should be required to obtain DNA samples directly from the source.

I don't think DNA samples should be taken from everyone who simply gets arrested, but only from those who plead or are found guilty without appeal.

luv
07-14-2010, 05:40 PM
WTF? A luv thread in DC?

You'll get a reputation this way.

Taking paralegal classes. It might happen from time to time. We do legal journals where we have to summarize a news article and give our opinion. I just thought I'd throw this one out there, since it was someone new to me.

vailpass
07-14-2010, 06:32 PM
Close enough.

http://www.bps-ok.org/kane/trek_teachers/Mr_Spock.jpg

:thumb:

HonestChieffan
07-14-2010, 06:33 PM
Taking paralegal classes. It might happen from time to time. We do legal journals where we have to summarize a news article and give our opinion. I just thought I'd throw this one out there, since it was someone new to me.

Great first entry in the basement. Dont hesitate to come back.

lostcause
07-15-2010, 12:24 PM
I believe that familial DNA searches should be allowed to be used in order to narrow down suspects. However, I do not believe that it should be admissible evidence. Once they have their suspects, they should be required to obtain DNA samples directly from the source.

I don't think DNA samples should be taken from everyone who simply gets arrested, but only from those who plead or are found guilty without appeal.

Mandatory DNA testing of criminal suspects is very borderline on violating basic miranda rights against self-incrimination.

ClevelandBronco
07-15-2010, 12:31 PM
Mandatory DNA testing of criminal suspects is very borderline on violating basic miranda rights against self-incrimination.

Did you switch from journalism to pre-law?

luv
07-15-2010, 02:36 PM
Mandatory DNA testing of criminal suspects is very borderline on violating basic miranda rights against self-incrimination.

I never said that the suspects should be required to give up their DNA. Only that officials should be required to have it in order for it to be admissible.

DJ's left nut
07-15-2010, 02:38 PM
Catching them? Do whatever you can do.

Convicting them? Different story.

DJ's left nut
07-15-2010, 02:41 PM
Mandatory DNA testing of criminal suspects is very borderline on violating basic miranda rights against self-incrimination.

Nope, not at all.

DNA tests, voice prints, fingerprint analysis, etc... are all considered non-testimonial. In essence, it is what it is. You can't control it and as such you're not convicting yourself any more than a layperson noting what you look like.

Does it violate some privacy rights? Yeah, probably, but the courts have already ruled on this stuff as it relates to 5th Amendment rights and have declared that it doesn't run afoul of them.

ClevelandBronco
07-15-2010, 02:45 PM
Catching them? Do whatever you can do.

Convicting them? Different story.

Well, "convicting them" is kind of the next chapter after the "catching them" chapter of the same story. The alternative is the "letting them go" chapter.

Just so I can follow you, what good is it to capture someone but not convict him?

luv
07-15-2010, 02:51 PM
Well, "convicting them" is kind of the next chapter after the "catching them" chapter of the same story. The alternative is the "letting them go" chapter.

Just so I can follow you, what good is it to capture someone but not convict him?

I see what you're saying.

If you've got DNA evidence, and you are able to use this tool to narrow down your suspects, then, even if they don't willingly give you a sample of their DNA, you can begin to use it as a lead in your investigation.

I mean, even though it's not thier own DNA, it gives you a pretty high likelihood that you're barking up the right tree, right?

ClevelandBronco
07-15-2010, 03:00 PM
I see what you're saying.

If you've got DNA evidence, and you are able to use this tool to narrow down your suspects, then, even if they don't willingly give you a sample of their DNA, you can begin to use it as a lead in your investigation.

I mean, even though it's not thier own DNA, it gives you a pretty high likelihood that you're barking up the right tree, right?

I can see how it would certainly save a lot of man hours if it cleared a person of interest (or whatever the heck he'd be called), but if it points to someone (but then can't be used as evidence) I'm unclear about the implications of that method leading them to the accused once the case comes to trial.

I'm not even sure if I can follow that sentence.

ClevelandBronco
07-15-2010, 03:00 PM
We need banyon in this thread.

healthpellets
07-15-2010, 03:12 PM
the problem with the whole partial DNA thing is that it will send the government in all sorts of different directions. any family member is implicated using partial DNA, so more people are unreasonably investigated and harassed by the government.

what we don't need is the government having any reason to target more innocent citizens.

DJ's left nut
07-15-2010, 03:49 PM
Well, "convicting them" is kind of the next chapter after the "catching them" chapter of the same story. The alternative is the "letting them go" chapter.

Just so I can follow you, what good is it to capture someone but not convict him?

The standards for issuing a warrant for a murder are significantly different than the standards for conviction for it, no?

In this case, I'm fine with both capturing and convicting based on the DNA evidence. However, I'm up for all kinds of underhanded tricks and sneaky questioning "reasonably designed to illicit an incriminating response" if that's what it takes to determine the whereabouts of a criminal. At the same time, I wouldn't be okay with those same tactics being used to conjure testimony designed to convict him.

There are constitional protections as to the conviction, those protections are singificantly lessened for a mere arrest.

Brock
07-15-2010, 03:59 PM
Mandatory DNA testing of criminal suspects is very borderline on violating basic miranda rights against self-incrimination.

Do you feel the same way about fingerprints?

Radar Chief
07-15-2010, 04:07 PM
We need banyon in this thread.

Agreed.

DJ's left nut
07-15-2010, 04:16 PM
Do you feel the same way about fingerprints?

Wanna talk borderline? Handwriting exemplars.

Those get close to self incrimination and the court has determined that even they don't count (as your signature is held out for public viewing).

Really, this isn't even a close call. There's no 5th Amendment discussion here.

luv
07-15-2010, 04:25 PM
I can see how it would certainly save a lot of man hours if it cleared a person of interest (or whatever the heck he'd be called), but if it points to someone (but then can't be used as evidence) I'm unclear about the implications of that method leading them to the accused once the case comes to trial.

I'm not even sure if I can follow that sentence.

I say they build their case as normal. They just have a certain suspect in mind, thanks to the familial DNA. Due to having that familial DNA, the likelihood is very high that they're not wasting their time on the wrong person. IMO, the familial DNA would not be admissible though, unless it is beyond reasonable doubt. Maybe up to a judge? I don't know about that.

Amnorix
07-15-2010, 04:26 PM
somehow that doesn't sound too good...

isn't that from marx or lenin or one of those guys?

Spock, actually. :D

luv
07-15-2010, 04:30 PM
the problem with the whole partial DNA thing is that it will send the government in all sorts of different directions. any family member is implicated using partial DNA, so more people are unreasonably investigated and harassed by the government.

what we don't need is the government having any reason to target more innocent citizens.

Questioning someone is not harrassing them though. And you could pretty much determine which relatives to focus on. I mean, a percentage of a match would be higher with immediate family, don't you think? In this case, it was high enough that they knew to target the father.

healthpellets
07-15-2010, 05:00 PM
Questioning someone is not harrassing them though. And you could pretty much determine which relatives to focus on. I mean, a percentage of a match would be higher with immediate family, don't you think? In this case, it was high enough that they knew to target the father.

imo, questioning without a real basis for the questions is harassment. all the cops are doing is casting a wide net hoping to find something, anything, to justify their actions.

it's like a cop pulling you over for going 68 in a 65 when his real mission to determine if you're in possession of drugs because you match a profile. all he's doing is questioning you, but he really has no basis for doing so.

luv
07-15-2010, 06:07 PM
imo, questioning without a real basis for the questions is harassment. all the cops are doing is casting a wide net hoping to find something, anything, to justify their actions.

it's like a cop pulling you over for going 68 in a 65 when his real mission to determine if you're in possession of drugs because you match a profile. all he's doing is questioning you, but he really has no basis for doing so.

In this case, though, I think they would have a basis. Your DNA partially matches that of evidence. If you are clear, then you you might be able to help point police in the right direction.