ALBANY,N.Y. (NEWS10)–The New York State Court of Appeals, the highest court in the state, ruled law enforcement can once again use familial DNA searching.
“It is a huge deal for law enforcement,” said John Flynn, Erie County District Attorney. “This is a major, major decision. I can’t emphasize that enough.”
Flynn said the decision by New York Court of Appeals to reinstate familial DNA searching will help law enforcement solve violent crimes. The DNA databank, which consists of the DNA of people who have been convicted of certain crimes, can be compared to other DNA found during an investigation.
“Let’s say we only get a partial match. And the partial match comes back and says that this DNA may not be Joe Smith’s DNA, and Joe Smith is a criminal in the databank. It may not be Joe Smith’s DNA, but it’s got to be a relative of Joe Smith,” explained Flynn.
Flynn said that then allows them to follow a lead.
“This was used in the Golden Gate homicide, the Golden Gate Killer out in California, and it’s a huge tool for us to use in New York State.”
A lawsuit over using this method was brought before an appellate court in New York, citing privacy concerns. The method was then banned. When the case went before the court of appeals, it recently was reinstated in a decision of 4-3.
“It’s not like we are using this all the time and we’re locking people up,” said Flynn. “It really comes to fruition very rarely. But when it does, it’s a big deal.”