Supreme Court Lifts DNA Ban

SALISBURY — Maryland law enforcement officials and prosecutors can at least temporarily resume collecting DNA samples from those arrested for certain violent crimes after the U.S. Supreme Court chief justice last week issued a stay of an earlier decision by the Maryland Court of Appeals decision on a landmark Salisbury rape case dating back to 2003.

In July 2010, Alonzo Jay King, Jr., now 29, was found guilty of first-degree rape for an unsolved 2003 case during which he allegedly broke down the door of a residence in Salisbury, armed with a gun and wearing a mask over his face, and sexually assaulted the 52-year-old female victim. In September 2010, King was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, but quickly appealed the conviction based on alleged illegal DNA sample collection following a subsequent arrest for assault.

In 2009, King was arrested after photographic and fingerprint evidence identified him as a suspect in an unrelated assault case. However, a DNA sample was taken from King at the time of the 2009 arrest, and when the information was entered in the state DNA database, the evidence linked him to the 2003 rape case.

Once a connection was made between King’s DNA sample and the 2003 rape, a second DNA sample was taken. The link between that second DNA sample and the 2003 rape was presented as evidence at trial. King appealed, arguing the second DNA sample used at trial violated his constitutional right against unreasonable searches.

In April, the Maryland Court of Appeals agreed the second DNA sample taken from King and used to gain a conviction in the 6-year-old rape case was unconstitutional. Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler quickly appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to review the Maryland Court of Appeals decision on DNA testing.

Last week, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts issues a one-sentence order reversing the Maryland Court of Appeals decision temporarily until the highest court in the country can take a closer look at the issue. With the understanding the Supreme Court has not issued a final ruling on the Maryland appeals court’s decision on DNA collection,

“We are encouraged by Chief Justice Roberts’ decision to enter a stay,” he said. “The court’s stay may indeed result in identifying perpetrators in some of Maryland’s most horrific unsolved cases where DNA was left at the scene. We expect to file our petition with the Supreme Court in the next few weeks.”

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.