CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Collecting DNA, as Required by State Law, Could Have Prevented Violence

From Raymont Hopewell entered the state prison in 2004 for attempting to sell $20 worth of cocaine. Under Maryland law, authorities should have taken a DNA sample to compare against evidence collected from unsolved cases. Had the DNA test been done, it would have matched evidence found at the scenes of two unsolved rapes and murders on Baltimore's west side. But Hopewell's DNA was not taken and he later escaped from prison and killed three more people, assaulted four others and raped one woman before he was arrested in September 2005.

Those who survived Hopewell's crime spree are asking why Hopewell wasn't arrested and charged sooner. They are upset that the state DNA law passed in 2002 - which required collection of DNA from felons - was not enforced when Hopewell entered prison in 2004.

State officials admit to failures in initial implementation of the DNA law. The Maryland State Police, charged with collecting the DNA, did not have the manpower to do the job. They say they have fixed the problem by enlisting state prison workers to help in collection.

"It's really, really tragic because had they tested early enough, they could have prevented these later crimes," said Lawrence Kobilinsky, a biology professor and associate provost of John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. "Unfortunately, this is a case where tragedies could have been averted." Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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