Paige Archambeault is delighted by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that says it's ok for police to take DNA at the time of arrest. She has been fighting for such a law in New York State since her mother, Carol Nelson, was murdered in 2007.
"The argument that it invades your privacy, it's not a valid argument to me obviously," Archambeault told CNY Central's Jim Kenyon
Nelson was 65 when she was killed by Glen Shoop along an undeveloped stretch of 7th North Street in Salina. It wasn't until after his conviction on an unrelated charge that police connected his DNA to a rape eight years earlier. Had authorities been able to collect Shoop's DNA at the time of his arrest, he would have been in jail and not free to commit murder.
For the past several years, Carol Nelson's name has been attached to legislation that would allow police in New York State to take DNA at the time of arrest, but the bill has consistently stalled in the state legislature. Now that the Supreme Court says the practice does not violate the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure, Archambeault hopes opponents in Albany will change their minds.
She sees DNA at arrest as a biological fingerprint and says that swab from inside a suspect's cheek is just one piece of evidence. "They don't just take your DNA at the scene and say 'you are guilty, That's it, done, end of story.' They use that with other tools. It's non invasive and it's not the one tool they use to solve a crime," she said
Syracuse State Assemblyman Bill Magnarelli has co-sponsored the bill for DNA at the time of arrest. On Tuesday, Magnarelli told Kenyon, "I understand the rights of the accused, but why would an innocent person have a problem with this?"
Chief Assistant District Attorney Rick Trunfio praised the Supreme Court decision. "It is not a violation of the fourth amendment, it is not unreasonable when there's probable cause to make an arrest. DNA is nothing more than a biological fingerprint."
Though the ruling bolsters efforts to allow police to take DNA at the time of arrest, Magnarelli says it comes too late for such a bill to pass before the legislative session is over at the end of this month.