Bills seek moratorium on destroying DNA evidence

first_imgOLYMPIA — The destruction of DNA evidence in some criminal cases has prompted the introduction of measures in the state House and Senate that would impose an 18-month moratorium on such actions.The bills, sponsored by Rep. Tina Orwall and Sen. Jeannie Darneille, also would create a work group to recommend permanent, statewide standards for preserving DNA material. The group would present its recommendations to the Legislature and governor by Dec. 1.Under current law, there is no requirement to preserve DNA evidence after a conviction, though defense attorneys can seek a court order to do so.The Innocence Project Northwest at the University of Washington’s Law School brought the idea to Orwall and Darneille after reviewing about 70 potential DNA cases between 2011 and 2013 and finding that in 25, including murder and rape prosecutions, biological evidence was destroyed in eight cases and lost in one.The Innocence Project Northwest said most states have varying laws on how long to preserve biological evidence.Washington is among eight states where evidence is not automatically preserved. Once convicted, defendants must file motions to have evidence preserved for use during possible appeals, said Lara Zarowsky, policy director for Innocence Project Northwest.last_img read more

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