In an alarming development, a lawsuit filed by the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender (OPD) claims that police used DNA samples from more than 25 years ago to investigate new cases. Blood samples from newborns were used.
OPD officials learned that the state police had successfully sought the blood sample of a newborn who is now about nine years old.
“The reason state police subpoenaed the sample was so they could conduct DNA analysis on the sample and connect the child’s father, who became a client of OPD, to the 1996 crime,” the lawsuit states. Can connect”.
By subpoenaing the newborn screening laboratory, state police allegedly shirked their constitutional obligation to develop probable cause and obtain a warrant “to take a buccal swab from an OPD client to analyze his DNA.” can get”.
The suspect then became a client of the OPD, which informed the office of the techniques used to identify the person.
Every baby born in New Jersey is required by law to be tested for 60 disorders within 48 hours of birth. Hospitals, medical facilities, and health care providers collect blood from newborns by pricking a needle into the heel.
These blood spot samples are later tested by the Newborn Screening Laboratory, operated by the New Jersey Department of Health, Public Health and Environmental Laboratories defendants.
The lawsuit alleges that “these blood spot samples were taken without the informed consent of the infant’s parents or guardians, and, based on information and belief, these samples were stored by the defendants for more than 20 years.” go,” the lawsuit alleges.
In early 2022, OPD learned that at least one law enforcement agency had obtained samples of newborn blood spots from a newborn screening laboratory to perform DNA analysis on the sample as part of a criminal investigation. can go.
State police reopened a 1996 “cold case” rape investigation and narrowed down the genetic suspects to three brothers and one of their children.
“Since there was no probable cause to obtain a search warrant for the buccal swabs from these suspects, state police instead submitted a request to the newborn screening laboratory in or around August 2021 to obtain dried blood residue. Obtain smear samples that were collected from a male newborn in or about June 2012, read the lawsuit.
To determine which family member was the suspect, state police ordered a blood stain sample taken from the nearly nine-year-old when he was an infant and compared it to the DNA that he had. collected from the scene in 1996.
The lawsuit, filed jointly by OPD and the nonprofit organization New Jersey Monitor, now seeks to compel the state of New Jersey to disclose information about the full extent of the practice.
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