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New legislation will allow Seattle DNA kits to finally be tested

New legislation would allow Seattle to upload data from hundreds of DNA kits collected in sex-based and domestic violence convictions in the city to the federal Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) database, a move officials say will help identify suspects in sex crimes across the country.

“This legislation I’m introducing in partnership with Pete Holmes is about fulfilling our obligation to do everything possible to get closure for victims. With this action, we can help add to the body of evidence behind unsolved crimes against people,” Seattle City Council member Lorena González said in a statement on the introduction of her new legislation.

Since 2014, whenever a person is convicted of one of the sex-based or domestic violence misdemeanors in Seattle subject to DNA collection, a saliva sample is collected to potentially be used for evidence in court. Seattle has been storing these samples for the past five years, waiting for legislation to be passed allowing the state crime lab to accept the 650 samples for uploading to CODIS. The Washington State Crime Lab has rejected the city’s yearly attempts to make uploading the DNA swabs legal in a fight over the city’s municipal code’s incorporation of state laws.

With the state and city finally agreeing on a path forward that will incorporates certain sections of State law into the Seattle Municipal Code by the end of 2019, Seattle must now change its rules to all the samples to be uploaded.

“Victims come forward to hold their assailant accountable, but also to prevent and solve future crimes. DNA evidence has led to the capture of the Golden State Killer and helped solve a double murder in Snohomish County, so I can only guess what cold cases these soon-to-be uploaded DNA samples might help uncover,” Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said.

Misdemeanor crimes that would qualify for uploading DNA evidence would include:

  • Assault in the fourth degree where domestic violence is pleaded and proven
  • Assault in the fourth degree with sexual motivation
  • Communication with a minor for immoral purposes
  • Harassment
  • Patronizing a prostitute
  • Stalking
  • Indecent exposure
  • Violation of a sexual assault protection order granted under chapter 7.90 RCW

Under the changes to state law, Seattle has until the end of the year to pass its legislation allowing the data to be shared.

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