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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Friday, March 25, 2005

Former BTK Suspect Wants His DNA Sample Destroyed

At one point in the hunt for the BTK serial killer, Roger Valadez was a suspect.  Police kicked down his door and hancuffed him as they aimed their guns ready to fire.  Police obtained a warrant to search his home and seize items.  Additionally, on December 1, 2004, while in their custody, police took a mouth swab from Valadez, which proved that he was not the killer.  Valadez's mouth swab was just one of 1,300 tested in the BTK investigation.  Police still have Valadez's sample, and he wants it destroyed along with its DNA profile if police have stored it in a database.  Valadez's hearing is scheduled for April 1.  Dan Monnat, Valadez's attorney commented, "Now that they claim the search for BTK is over, we cannot see any reason for them to continue to conceal from Roger Valadez why they were looking in his house and his mouth for BTK...DNA information is maybe the most intimate information about a person. There is no reason for that information to be unnecessarily in the government's files. Who knows what future use the 21st century will find for DNA?"  Sam Walker, a University of Nebraska-Omaha professor and police corruption expert who has conducted a national study of DNA sweeps, has pointed out that Dennis Rader aka BTK's arrest didn't result from the DNA sweep, but rather "old-fashioned police investigation."  After BTK sent a computer disk to a Witchita TV station, police traced the disk to the church where Rader served as council president.  The Associated Press reports: "In Walker's study of 18 DNA sweeps, the tests identified a suspect in only one case - a 1998 sweep in Lawrence, Mass., where police investigating the rape of a comatose nursing home patient collected samples from 25 men who had access to her."  While Walker and civil rights advocates criticize DNA sweeps, this technique has proven appealing to the public.  This past November voters in California approved a law that will allow police, starting in 2008, to collect DNA samples from anyone arrested for a felony, regardless of whether the suspect is convicted.  More... [Mark Godsey]

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