Tuesday, March 25, 2008

DNA Bill Gets Initial Senate Approval

Although several members listed as co-sponsors decided not to vote for their bill, a measure that would grant convicted felons a new trial when law enforcement authorities lose or fail to keep DNA evidence passed the Senate on its first test this morning.

SB 205, which is sponsored by 26 senators, was approved on a voice vote.

However, some of those who had signed on to sponsor it ended up opposing it.

Sen. Tom Wiens, R-Castle Rock, was among them. He said that he believes there are "plenty of other opportunities" to remedy loss of evidence. Sen. Josh Penry, R-Fruita, argued that the bill will benefit only one man.

Sen. Ken Gordon, D-Denver, has said he was inspired to draft and introduce the bill because of the situation surrounding Clarence Moses-El, who was convicted of a 1987 rape on the basis of a the victim's testimony that she had seen his face in a dream. The Denver Police Department discarded the DNA evidence gathered during the investigation of the crime in 1995 despite a court order requiring its preservation. Moses-El has always maintained his innocence.

Sen. Shawn Mitchell, R-Broomfield, disagreed with GOP colleagues Wiens and Penry. "As awful as it may be for a victim or a victim’s family to contemplate a retrial, our first responsibility here ought to be for justice," Mitchell said.

The bill faces a final vote in the Senate before moving on to the House.