The State Senate has given overwhelming approval to a measure expanding the state’s DNA database to include samples from all convicted felons. Senate Bill 646, by Sen. Jonathan Nichols, R-Norman, was approved 42-3 on Wednesday.
“This legislation can lead to solving some of the most heinous, unsolved crimes on the book,” said Nichols, a former Cleveland County prosecutor. “We’re talking about murders, rapes and child molestation cases that we’ve been unable to solve to this date.” Rep. Fred Morgan, R-OKC, co-author of SB 646, has also led the effort on this crime-fighting measure.
“There are crime victims across the state still waiting for justice—this measure can help us give them the justice they deserve. I’m optimistic the House will join the Senate in passing this important bill,” Morgan said.
Senate Bill 646 was originally requested by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI.) When the database was originally begun it only included those convicted of sex offenses. Since that time other crimes have been added helping them solve more crimes.
“By adding DNA samples from categories we haven’t included in the past, we’re greatly increasing our chances of solving cold cases. DNA is what finally helped identify a suspect in the 1996 murder of Juli Buskin,” Nichols explained.
The suspect in the murder of the University of Oklahoma ballet student had been incarcerated on a second degree burglary charge but law enforcement officials searching the DNA database matched his samples to those from the Buskin murder.
Nichols said if signed into law, this would be applicable to anyone convicted of a felony, including those currently incarcerated on felony convictions.
“When investigators can match a suspect’s DNA to one crime, it often helps them solve many additional crimes—especially in cases of rape and child molestation,” Morgan said. “The sooner we can identify those responsible, the sooner we can get them behind bars where they can no longer prey on the innocent.”
Rep. Morgan said once the House approves SB 646 the next stop will be Gov. Brad Henry’s desk.