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Norwalk Lawmaker's DNA Bill Passed by House

A bill allowing the collection of DNA evidence from convicted felons was approved by the Connecticut House of Representatives on Friday. Co-sponsored by State Rep. Bruce Morris (D-Norwalk), the legislation (HB 6489) calls for the collection of DNA evidence from convicted felons upon a subsequent felony arrest.

"This measure has the potential not only to solve crimes, but also to prevent crimes and save lives," Morris said in a statement. "This is the new fingerprint, a tool to be used to assist law enforcement."

The legislation is modeled after "Katie's Law," which was created after Katie Sepich, a 22-year-old graduate student at New Mexico State University, was raped and strangled in August 2003 outside her New Mexico home. Her body was set on fire at a dumpsite nearby.

The legislation requires people arrested for any of 39 felony offenses to provide a DNA sample before they are released from custody, if they had previously been convicted of a felony.

Morris said that when he heard of Sepich's story he decided he wanted to do everything possible to pass a "Katie's Law" in Connecticut. In Sepich's case, after three years of investigation, the New Mexico DNA database matched the profile of her perpetrator, who had been convicted of several other crimes.

The information gathered in Connecticut will be added to a federal DNA database. A provision in the bill allows individuals who are exonerated to have their DNA expunged from the system.

The bill moves to the Senate for legislative action. The General Assembly adjourns June 8.

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