The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that when the true name of a suspect — identified by a DNA profile and the name "John Doe" on an indictment — is determined, that suspect can be prosecuted, even after the statue of limitations has passed, reports The Boston Globe. In the ruling, the justices said that a DNA profile is an "indelible 'bar code' that labels an individual's identity with nearly irrefutable precision." In that way, the court says that indictment differs from a John Doe indictment that lacks a DNA identifier. "Unlike the general John Doe indictment . . . an indictment of a person identified by a DNA profile accuses a singular and ascertained, but simply unnamed individual," wrote Justice Robert Cordy.
In this case, the suspect's identity was determined when he was incarcerated for an unrelated crime and gave a DNA sample, as the Globe notes is required of all state prisoners. However, it raises the question of anonymity and privacy in other, non-governmental DNA databases, such as ones of patients, that police could also draw from to find matches.