Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

February 13, 2013

Collection of DNA evidence bill sent to House

FRANKFORT — Katie Sepich was a 22-year old college graduate from New Mexico in 2003 when she was brutally raped, murdered and her body set on fire.

She had fought for her life and forensic investigators found DNA evidence left by her attacker. Three years later DNA determined the identity of her attacker. But in those three years, the man committed several other rapes.

Katie’s mother, Jan Sepich, implored the Kentucky House Judiciary Committee to approve a bill sponsored by Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville, which would allow collection of DNA evidence from those arrested for felony crimes.

Sepich said the proposed legislation would convict “these monsters who are hunting down and slaughtering our children.”

The bill is modeled on one passed in New Mexico after her mother’s efforts to get it enacted.

Collection of DNA evidence, Sepich said, can also prevent the wrongful imprisonment of innocent defendants.

One California rapist and murderer was finally caught and convicted through use of DNA evidence, Sepich testified, after another man had been wrongfully convicted of the crime and had spent 11 years in prison.

During those 11 years, the actual perpetrator raped and killed 12 others before the DNA testing linked him to the original crime, resulting in the release of the wrongfully convicted man.

Under the bill, anyone whose DNA is collected and then found innocent can apply for expungement of the record from the national DNA database. Sepich said the database is completely secure and has never been breached.

Marzian said the initial cost to Kentucky to would be between $1.3 and $1.6 million but federal grants are available under a law named for Katie Sepich to help with the initial setup. The law would not apply to misdemeanors.

But the bill also contains a clause which would allow the state to delay implementation or suspend use of the program if it proved too costly.

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