2008 Archives

Rape legislation would require DNA link be noted in suspects' histories

Excerpt

The following is from the March 13, 2009, edition of The Dallas Morning News. Professor Fred Moss of SMU's Dedman School of Law provided expertise for this story.

March 13, 2009

By STEVE THOMPSON
The Dallas Morning News

Angela was raped by a stranger with a knife in 1986. Her 3-year-old daughter was in bed with her, and the girl's first memory is of her mother screaming.

Though Dallas police say they have identified the Oak Cliff woman's attacker through DNA, he can't be prosecuted because of an old statute of limitations.

On Thursday, District Attorney Craig Watkins announced legislation to create some measure of justice for Angela and other women who share her burden.

The proposed legislation, filed this week by state Sen. John Carona and Rep. Allen Vaught, would require that the DNA link between Angela and the suspect be noted in his criminal history. And it would do the same for many other women in Angela's position.

Noting the DNA links in suspects' criminal histories could influence decisions about parole, bail amounts or sentences for crimes. . .

The law they've proposed stands on firmer legal ground, said Dallas County prosecutor Mike Ware, who oversees the district attorney's conviction integrity unit and helped craft the proposed legislation.

One expert said Thursday that he tends to agree.

"They're probably going to be able to get by," said Fred Moss, a law professor at Southern Methodist University and a former federal prosecutor. "Now that doesn't mean there won't be a lawsuit."

Read the full story.