Katie’s Law is now Colorado’s law, too
Colorado’s archive of DNA evidence is about to expand substantially, due to a bill with bipartisan support that was signed into law by Gov. Bill Ritter on Thursday.
Senate Bill 241 requires the collection of DNA samples from anyone arrested on a felony charge at the time they are booked into jail.
It is named for Katie Sepich, who was raped and murdered in 2003 in New Mexico.
Katie fought her assailant, and investigators found traces of his blood and DNA under her fingernails. The assailant was arrested on an unrelated charge three months later, but authorities didn’t link him to the Sepich murder until nearly three years later, after he was convicted of burglary and his DNA was collected.
SB 241 was sponsored in the House by Republican Reps. Steve King of Grand Junction and Scott Tipton of Cortez, and in the Senate by Democratic Sen. John Morse of Colorado Springs.
Colorado prosecutors like Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrisey and Attorney General John Suthers say there are many instances when having that DNA information on file when a person was arrested for one crime would have helped them solve other crimes — especially violent sexual assaults — much more quickly.
SB 241 is not without cost. At least three new employees will be required in the Department of Public Safety, and more than $1.7 million a year initially will be required to process and store all of the additional DNA evidence.
But the legislation also provides funding by charging an additional $5 fee for anyone convicted of a felony, misdemeanor or traffic offense in Colorado beginning July 1.
SB 241 will make an important tool for solving violent crimes available earlier to law enforcement authorities than it is under current law.
We applaud those who helped shepherd this bill through the Legislature, and Gov. Ritter for signing it.