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News Mar 9, 2011 - 3:37 PM

Reps working on a DNA testing bill

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State Rep. Frank Nicastro (D-Bristol, Forestville) and Rep. Ernest Hewett (D-New London) held a press conference today in support of a bill to require DNA testing for certain felony arrests. The bill, HB 6489 or “Katie’s Law”, would aid in identifying violent criminals and help close unsolved cold cases by having DNA screened against the DNA database.

Following the press conference, Ms. Jayann Sepich, Katie’s mother, gave testimony at a Judiciary Committee Public Hearing today in support of HB 6489, AN ACT REQUIRING DNA TESTING OF PERSONS ARRESTED FOR THE COMMISSION OF A SERIOUS FELONY.

“Katie Sepich was brutally murdered and her killer, under arrest for burglary in 2006 had his DNA matched as Katie’s killer. DNA matching will not only save lives by locking up dangerous criminals but also prevent repeat offenders from committing additional crimes,” said Rep. Nicastro. “24 other states and the federal government have similar laws that have proven that DNA matching works and can help save innocent lives. I am honored to be able to co-sponsor this bill modeled after ‘Katie’s Law’ that is being adopted nationally.”

“This legislation will not only put the guilty in jail, but will help free people wrongfully convicted. Increasing the DNA bank will enhance an important tool that law enforcement currently uses to facilitate criminal investigations,” said Rep. Hewett, a member of the legislature’s Judiciary Committee. “For example, since 2003, the state of Virginia has received over 5000 hits on their DNA database with nearly 500 of these matches directly attributed to arrestees.”

Hewett added, “I thank Ms. Sepich for coming to Connecticut to support this bill and to share her personal story with us. DNA is the blueprint of the 21 century. The time has come to give our law enforcement officers the tools they need to solve crimes that otherwise may take years. DNA evidence has proven effective in resolving many cases. I believe this legislation will help our state get those offenders who have committed repeated crimes locked away from our communities.”

“My daughter Katie was brutally raped and murdered. Our family knows the pain of burying a much loved child,” said Jayann Sepich. “24 states and the federal government have passed legislation allowing DNA to be taken upon certain arrests. It works. It solves crimes, prevents crimes, saves lives and exonerates the innocent. It means other families will not walk our path.”

According to Jayann Sepich, founder of DNASaves.org, the law identifies violent criminals quickly. For example, in states that have passed Katie’s Law burglary offenses have led to the largest group of DNA matches for other unsolved violent crimes. By collecting DNA from arrestees, law enforcement can identify criminals earlier and create more efficient investigation practices. Solving crimes sooner reduces costs associated with misdirected investigations. With a DNA match, law enforcement can quickly narrow in on the right suspect, saving untold man hours used in traditional investigations. This cost savings can then be redirected to other crimes where DNA is not available and traditional investigation techniques are the only means of solving the crime.

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