A state forensic commission delayed voting Wednesday on whether to approve a proposal for familial DNA searching in certain criminal cases, deciding instead to send the measures back to a special subcommittee to tighten up some of the language after some commission members voiced concerns.
The 10 members of the New York State Commission on Forensic Science agreed after a nearly two and a half-hour discussion that the proposal on the emerging and somewhat controversial DNA procedure needed some additional work, particularly on a section which related to what “exigent circumstances” had to exist before the method could be used.
The measure, which gained ground as a result of the slaying last August of Howard Beach jogger Karina Vetrano, would permit police and prosecutors to request familial searching in cases — like the Vetrano case — where an unknown DNA sample was found at the crime scene but had no genetic match in state databases.
The measure will now be referred back to a special DNA subcommittee which last month had recommended that familial testing be adopted in New York State. The subcommittee is slated to take up the measure again on May 19.
Karina’s father, Philip Vetrano, a proponent of familial searching, voiced disappointment with the commission action but was optimistic the measure as revised would pass.
“I am somewhat disappointed but hopeful and optimistic that by the anniversary of Karina’s death that we will have familial searching,” Vetrano told Newsday on Wednesday.
The NYPD and local district attorneys support familial searching, which is used in 10 states including California. Officers made an arrest in the Vetrano case using conventional methods in February.
Police have since arrested Chanel Lewis, 20, from Brooklyn, in connection with Vetrano’s death.