When a high court ruling came down this week limiting the use of DNA evidence, police in the state were investigating 20 cases based on DNA collected after they arrested suspects charged with committing a violent crime or burglary.
Now, it's unclear whether any of those cases will lead to prosecutions. The Court of Appeals decision puts in question the constitutionality of collecting the samples before a conviction, and the state is considering whether to appeal the matter to theU.S. Supreme Court. Maryland has nearly 16,000 post-arrest samples in a DNA database.
Law enforcement officials have said little information about what will become of the DNA inventory.
Information about the cases under investigation is confidential. Gregory Shipley, spokesman for the Maryland State Police, said information about the investigations or the identities of the people involved will not be revealed publicly to not jeopardize the case. In some of the cases, the suspect might not know he or she is under investigation, he said.
(The same is true for the identities of any of the suspects whose identities were tied to a cold case, Shipley says.)
The governor’s office released updated statistics on Wednesday that show the DNA samples, when checked against a database of unsolved crimes, have led to 65 arrests and 34 convictions. Twelve trials are pending.
Most of the crimes linked to the offenders charged were burglaries and theft, according to the governor’s data. That accounts for 44 cases. Thirteen involved rapes or sex crimes and six were robberies.
In a call for an appeal, Col. Marcus Brown, superintendent of the state police, highlighted a significant case that was built on post-arrest DNA collection.
Gregory L. Brown of Baltimore County was sentenced to life in prison in October 2010 after he was convicted of first-degree rape. Gregory Brown, now in his 40s, had first been arrested for the alleged sexual assault of his seven- and eight-year-old female cousins in 2008, police said.
His DNA, taken at the time of his arrest on the sexual assault charges, matched evidence from a 2004 rape of a 13-year-old girl at a bus stop and a 2000 rape of a 14-year-old girl. Gregory Brown also has a history of drug and robbery arrests, according to police.