New MI DNA Laws Could Shed Light On Cold Cases, Improve Police-Work

New state laws involving DNA could play a major role in solving crimes.

The laws will allow police to greatly expand the state’s criminal DNA database and may even help detectives solve decades-old mysteries.

Governor Snyder today signed laws expanding the collection of DNA samples to include people arrested on suspicion of any felony charge.

Michigan already requires DNA swabs from those arrested on suspicion of murder, rape and other violent crimes.

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Back in 1983, when Reed City Police found the body of Janette Roberson in the basement of a local store, the technology that could have been used to track down her killer hadn’t yet been developed–DNA.

Now, police use a DNA databank to help solve cases.

It’s filled with the genetic material of convicted criminals.

“We have their data profile in there,” said Reed City Police Chief Chuck Davis. “Later on, they get arrested again and we get the DNA from that person and we have a suspect. We attempt to match it and then it’s very successful. “

Under new state laws–Michigan’s genetic profiling system, could soon become far more comprehensive.

“With the list of felonies being expanded–it gives us more opportunity to have more DNA in that databank,” said Davis.

The laws also enable police to take DNA samples from suspected felons right when they’re arrested–sending the samples out for testing as soon as they’re charged, as opposed to later on in the process.

While police say it’s a wonderful tool–not everyone agrees.

“By them taking a DNA sample at the time of arrest, it’s like saying you’re guilty before you have any proceedings,” said Robert Ringstrom, a Cadillac-based defense attorney.

Still, the system could provide detectives with the means to bring closure to families like the Robersons.

“It may have solved this case years ago–but we have to have a database,” asserted Davis. “I do think that it’s going to help in the future.”

Friends and relatives aren’t waiting around for a DNA break in the case to find Janette Roberson’s killer.

32 years after her murder, they’re hosting the second annual ‘Justice For Janette Walk’ this Saturday in Reed City.