OKLAHOMA CITY – An Oklahoma mother is sharing her pain in hopes of getting a new law passed in our state.
The “DNA at arrest” bill would allow law enforcement to collect a suspect’s DNA at the time of arrest, rather than waiting until a conviction.
Senate Bill 618 would allow for DNA to be collected at the initial court appearance for felonies and certain misdemeanors; 26 other states already have similar laws.
“She was raped and suffocated,” Maggie Zingman said, speaking of her daughter, Brittany Phillips, who was murdered in Tulsa back in 2004.
Eight and a half years after her daughter’s brutal killing, Zingman is still searching for answers.
“They DNA swabbed over 2,000 suspects and, you know, we still haven’t found him,” she said.
Zingman has traveled more than 67,000 miles across 46 states telling her daughter’s story and raising awareness for DNA at arrest.
“When you take it at arrest, you’re stopping a criminal early in their career,” Zingman said.
Zingman has fought to get the bill passed for four years now in Oklahoma.
For the first time, it’s passed out of committee and the senate will likely vote on it this week.
“DNA is needed to solve these crimes where it’s very hard to find a killer. Our killer is possibly serial,” Zingman said.
Zingman points to a recent case, Robert Bruce, who was convicted of a crime in Colorado.
Just last month, his DNA linked him to several rapes and assaults from back in the 1980s here in our state.
But not everyone supports this bill.
“The first person that I know of that they try to take their DNA, I’ll challenge it in the supreme court,” attorney David Slane said.
Slane said the law would violate privacy and basic constitutional rights.
“I think they want to fill up the DNA database. I think they want to have more and more names and DNA in that database to try and get a hit,” he said.
“All it does is it protects lives,” Zingman said.
Zingman said law enforcement only take 14 pieces of a person’s DNA and no identity is attached.
It’s sent to a national database as a series of numbers.
“If you’re proven innocent and there’s no reason to keep your DNA, most of the states now expunge it,” Zingman said.
The US Supreme Court is currently hearing a case involving the arrest of a man in Maryland whose DNA linked him to an old crime.
It could affect state laws that allow for collection of that evidence at arrest.
A decision in that case is expected by June.