"If all our concern is to catch criminals, then police should have free access to all of that."
On the other side of the argument are those who believe a DNA sample is no different than a fingerprint taken when a suspect is brought into custody. Supporters, such as Scott D. Shellenberger, state's attorney for Baltimore County, see the practice as an opportunity to put repeat violent offenders behind bars.
The public should not be concerned with potential abuse of genetic information by law enforcement officials, Shellenberger said. The portion of a person's DNA that contains sensitive information, such as a predisposition toward a certain disease, is not analyzed by law enforcement, he said.
"What use do I have of knowing whether Gregory Brown is going to get prostate cancer in 30 years or not? Why would that be helpful to me in any way? As a law enforcement agency, the thing I only care about is identification," said Shellenberger, who oversaw the prosecution of Brown's sexual assault case involving the young relatives.
Brown has appealed his conviction for the rape in Cherry Hill, and his attorney has asked the state's Court of Special Appeals to suppress the DNA evidence that was the cornerstone of his conviction.
That case is pending.
At his sentencing for the Cherry Hill rape, Brown sat, arms crossed and feet firmly planted, as his lawyer finished his remarks to Judge David W. Young, a courtroom video shows. Then, for the first time in the case, he spoke on his own behalf. Brown said the case was built on lies, from the detective to the prosecution.
"These allegations that are against me are truly and honestly false." Brown said.
"I have thirty-two nieces or nephews I never touched. I am not a child molester. I am not a rapist. ...
"I [ask] you consider my life and my family, too, because [the victim] ain't the only one hurting. My family is hurting too. I am standing before you as an innocent man."
Brown said he was targeted in the case because of his past record. His 32-page rap sheet goes back to the early 1980s and lists five earlier convictions, including drug offenses, breaking and entering and driving on a suspended license.
According to charging documents from the rape near Lake Montebello, Brown pulled up to the teenage victim and asked if she needed a ride. She said no at first, but eventually got in. He told her he needed to stop to fill up his tank and pulled into the 700 block of Tyson Street, a somewhat secluded alleyway.
Brown showed the girl a silver razor blade with an orange handle and ordered her into the back of the station wagon, where he raped her.
In a plea deal, Brown agreed to forgo a jury trial for a 20-year sentence, which would run concurrently with his life terms in the previous rape conviction.
As in the other sexual offenses, Brown continued to insist he was innocent.
In a letter received by The Baltimore Sun last week, Brown reiterated his position.
"The state played a dirty game," Brown wrote.
"They violated me and my constitutional rights. … Thank God for the Court of Appeals. They finaly are trying to stop police misconduct that's been going on for years. ...
"Being found guilty does not mean I'm guilty."
Life after her rape