By a 9-2 vote, the state passed a measure that would allow for a family DNA search when all other leads are exhausted in a violent crime. It could use DNA taken from a crime scene and match it closely with a relative who’s already in the state DNA database.
The move is a no-brainer and New York State becomes the 11th state – joining even more progressive states like California – to adopt the measure. And they did so rather expeditiously after advocacy from the Vetrano’s and lawmakers began five months ago.
The Vetrano family in particular should be applauded for relentless fight for the change, even when it had no bearing on justice for their daughter’s killer.
A suspect is already in custody for that murder, so Phil and Cathie Vetrano had no personal reason to carry on the fight. And yet they did in hopes that the death of their daughter could bring about some positive change.
Their perseverance throughout is incredibly admirable. Without their advocacy, this change would likely never have happened.
For those concerned that suddenly family members are going to be pinned for crimes because their brother or sister has a criminal past, know that family DNA is simply a tool to open up new leads and not a be-all, end-all when it comes to solving a crime.
Prosecutors still need to build a case and simply using family DNA won’t pass the smell test in any court of law.
Plus, it can actually be used as a tool to exonerate someone that’s wrongfully convicted by finding the real perpetrator.
Now it’s on the state Commission on Forensic Science to come up with strong guidelines and ensure a smooth implementation.