DNA Bill Could Grow Database

Tuesday, February 17th 2009, 8:05 pm
By: News 9

By Amy Lester, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Several lawmakers want to pass bills requiring more people to give DNA samples.

The lawmakers want to force people either arrested or charged with a felony to give a DNA sample. The goal is to give investigators more tools to keep you safe.

Maggie Zingman's dedicated her life to finding her daughter Brittany's killer. She travels the country, searching for clues.

"I don't believe, 'Well, I'm not sure if we're ever going to find Brittany's killer'," Zingman said.

Someone raped and murdered Brittany Phillips in Tulsa four years ago. Police ruled out 1,700 suspects by using DNA.

"We have to keep pushing to change these laws," Zingman said.

By laws, Zingman means when someone must give a DNA sample for the state's database. Currently, the law only forces convicted felons to submit samples.

"The more samples we have in the database, the more potential we have for solving crimes and preventing future crimes by getting someone off the street sooner," OSBI Criminalistics Administrator Erin Henry said.

Several state lawmakers want to get more than the current 40,000 samples by requiring more Oklahomans to submit their DNA.

Representative Paul Wesselhoft (R-District 54) wrote a bill which would make people charged with a felony give DNA samples.

"The larger that database becomes the more likely that we're going to get hits on it," Representative Wesselhoft said. "We're going to find people who committed crimes in other states, some of those crimes could be murder or rape."

Other lawmakers want to require anyone arrested for a felony to provide a DNA sample.

"It will disqualify so many other people as a suspect of a crime or it can identify a victim of a crime much faster than what we've been able to do before," Representative Lucky Lamons (D-District 66) said.

The OSBI believe a larger database will put criminals behind bars and improve life in the state.

"We're wanting to make a safer society not just for today, but for our future generation," Henry said.

The lawmakers expect some opposition, especially when it comes to whether or not the bills are constitutional.