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State DNA databank sets record in March for cases 'matched' through genetic samples

April 8, 2010 | 11:15 am

The California DNA databank has matched 2,000 crime scene samples to suspects and set a record in March with more than 400 matches, Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown announced Thursday.

The database averages 300 matches a month, and the number jumped to 405 in March, Brown said.

"This is a remarkable milestone in the advancement of criminal justice technology," Brown said in a statement. "The DNA database has been used in over 12,000 investigations and contributed to thousands of convictions of the most violent criminals. Otherwise, these crimes are likely to go unsolved."

The state’s DNA databank became operational in 1994 and now contains more than 1.5 million DNA samples, according to the state department of justice. Officials say about 25,000 DNA profiles are added to the database each month.

The database received a significant boost in 1994 when a voter-approved initiative, Proposition 69, required all defendants convicted of a felony to submit a DNA sample. The requirement was extended in 2009 to all adults arrested on felony charges.

The DNA profiles uploaded to California's database also are given to the national Combined DNA Index System.

In February, the database tied convicted sex offender John Gardner III to rape and homicide in the disappearance of Chelsea King, a 17-year-old high school student from San Diego County. In that case, forensic experts compared crime scene samples to DNA from convicted offenders and arrested suspects in the databank.

The database has also revealed new crimes committed by already imprisoned offenders. In 2009, Richard Ramirez, a death row inmate known as the "Night Stalker," was connected to the 1984 killing of a 9-year-old San Francisco girl, Mei Leung.

Last August, a 34-year-old cold case was solved when Dennis Vasquez, 50, of Los Angeles, was arrested and required to submit a DNA sample to authorities. Vasquez's DNA matched the DNA found at a murder scene in 1975. He is being prosecuted for murder by the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.

-- Richard Winton