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Chief Spaulding: Court Ruling a 'Significant Blow' to Public Safety

Patch wants to know what you think of the court ruling?

The Maryland Court of Appeals ruled this week that part of a state law allowing law enforcement to collect DNA from anyone arrested for a crime of violence is unconstitutional when it overturned a rape conviction and life sentence Tuesday.

Patch wants to know your thoughts on this state ruling. Tell us in comments.

Westminster Police Chief Jeffrey Spaulding said he urges the Attorney General to appeal this case.

"It is clear that this law has played a significant role in closing major cases around the state," Spaulding said.

According to Spauling, since the inception of the program more than 1,300 DNA hits have been recorded.  As a result, 462 criminals have been held accountable for their crimes, to include the closure of 130 rape and sexual assault cases and 14 homicide cases.

"Violent crimes are committed by a small percentage of offenders," Spaulding said. "Maryland’s DNA law assists law enforcement in holding this small but violent group of offenders accountable more quickly, accurately and efficiently."

Other law enforcement officials from around the state are protesting the ruling.

Howard County State’s Attorney Dario J. Broccolino, president of the Maryland State’s Attorneys’ Association, called the ability to collect DNA samples from suspects an “important crime fighting tool,” according to a press release.

are also urging Attorney General Doug Gansler to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the appeals court decision..

The conviction and sentence of Alonzo Jay King Jr. was overturned Tuesday in a 5-2 vote. The court ruled Wicomico County police violated King’s Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches when they arrested him in 2009 and took a sample of his DNA, according to court documents and a story on WashingtonPost.com.

The DNA collected from that arrest generated a match to a sample collected from a 2003 sexual assault forensic examination, according to documents stating the court opinion.

That match provided was the only probable cause provided for a grand jury indictment of King on rape charges, according to court documents. King was convicted of first-degree rape and sentenced to life in prison.

"The DNA evidence presented at trial was a fruit of the poisonous tree," the court opinion states.

The sample was taken under the Maryland DNA Collection Act which allows police to collect DNA samples from individuals who are arrested, but not yet convicted, for crimes of violence or burglary or attempting these crimes.

What are your thoughts on this ruling? Do you think police should have the right to search a person arrested under suspicion of committing or attempting a violent crime? Do you agree with the ruling that it is a violation of rights?

John D. Witiak April 27, 2012 at 01:47 PM
I want the authorities to have all the tools to bring criminals to justice, but, you know, yours and my freedom and rights must be protected from the few over-zealous officials who are willing to wink at our constitution in an attempt to solve a crime. First body fluids, then what's next in the name of law enforcement? Imagine your most private moment and ask yourself if you want it compromised by government agents just because they have a suspicion that your blue or brown eyes make you guilty of SOMETHING! In my view, the police have to solve crimes the old fashioned way. They must not tread on our rights and freedom. But I guess each generation has to re-discover the wheel. I hope the generations which follow us don't get so accustomed to having little or no privacy, rights and freedom that they'll succum to a dictator just because they think it's cool that the government knows everything there is to know about then.
Buck Harmon April 27, 2012 at 03:02 PM
Well said John !
S&W April 30, 2012 at 12:29 AM
Yes I agree, well said. Let me ask this, when you are investigated for a security clearence, are the fingerprints taken destroyed or kept? When you get a CCW do they destroy the fingerprints taken or are they kept? When a person is arrested and fingerprinted then found not guilty at the trial or the case is dropped, are those fingerprints destroyed? I don't know the answer, that is why I am asking.
I. DeFeo May 01, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Well said. There's a fine balance between security and protecting rights.

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