Friday, July 9, 2010

Controversial Familial DNA Used to Find Grim Sleeper

California Attorney General Jerry Brown praised police for the arrest of Lonnie David Franklin, Jr. the alleged serial killer known as the "Grim Sleeper". Authorities said a DNA match from a database Brown pushed tied Franklin to the killings, and the attorney general said the case demonstrates the value of the controversial tool known as familial DNA.

Brown said California's familial DNA search program led to the identification and arrest of Franklin.

According to CNN, the program -- which was enacted in 2008 against opposition from civil rights groups -- uses the DNA of family members to find suspects in cases of great risk to the public, Brown's office said in a press release. "We're going to fight to protect this technology, and next week my office will be in court defending another form of DNA technology."

Franklin was tabbed the Grim Sleeper because of the nearly 14 years he took off between murders. Using the DNA of one of Franklin's family members, who had been convicted of a felony weapons charge, investigators established a familial connection between the family member and DNA collected at the murder scenes, according to DNA. That connection was used to identify and arrest Franklin after his DNA was obtained.

"This arrest provides proof positive that familial DNA searches must be a part of law enforcement's crime-fighting arsenal. Although the adoption of this new state policy was unprecedented and controversial, in certain cases, it is the only way to bring a dangerous killer to justice," Brown told CNN. Brown is the former governor of California and is running for governor again this year.

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