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Governor Considers Bill Expanding the State's DNA Database

One recently approved bill that’s still under review by Governor McAuliffe arose from the case of murdered UVa student Hannah Graham—and was championed by Albemarle County Sheriff Chip Harding.  The bill would require collection of DNA from people convicted of certain misdemeanors….with their DNA added to the state’s criminal database.   The governor had raised some objections to the legislation while the General Assembly was still in session.

The man charged with Graham’s murder had been convicted of a misdemeanor. The sheriff believes she might still be alive if Jesse Matthew’s DNA had been collected and matched with a then-unsolved, 2005 Fairfax County attack.  On a radio program, McAuliffe had expressed concern about collecting DNA for misdemeanors, which can include very minor crimes such as jaywalking.  But Senator Mark Obenshain said the bill is targeted.

“What we have is quantitative data showing that the offenses that we are adding have a high level of correlation to violent felony offenses in the future.”

So the governor said he’s had a change of heart.

“They defined them, so I’m comfortable with what they defined. I was very worried where that would go, but I was fine with the list that they actually came up with. I thought that that made common sense.”

McAuliffe must act on the bill by March 29th.

The list of misdemeanors includes such offenses as violation of a protective order, stalking, infected sexual battery, entering the property of another for the purpose of damaging it, indecent exposure, and resisting arrest.