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All in the Family : Jul 9, 2010

Based on a familial DNA search, the Los Angeles Police Department arrested Lonnie Franklin, Jr., in connection with the 'Grim Sleeper' serial killer case, reports the New York Times. Colorado and California are the only US states with a "codified policy permitting a so-called familial search," the Times adds. Franklin's son Christopher had been convicted of a weapons charge and the state lab noted a familial connection between Christopher's DNA and DNA evidence from the old crime scenes. The police used a slice of pizza discarded by Franklin to confirm that match. Franklin was then charged with 10 counts of murder and one of attempted murder. While Attorney General Jerry Brown calls this "a breakthrough" and an "important" technology, the ACLU's Michael Risher says "it is a very imprecise tool" that "has the potential to invade the privacy of a lot of people."

At Gene Expression, Razib Khan adds "that worries about this technology strike me as a bit rich, in light of the fact that methods which are proven to be highly subjective and often inaccurate, such as fingerprinting and eyewitness identification, are accepted in the criminal justice system." He does, though, have concerns "about what the state could do with DNA data if the state became malevolent."

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