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Challenge to DNA Search

A suspect in a rape case who was identified through genetic genealogy is arguing that the DNA analysis that then further tied him to the case violates the US Constitution, the Washington Post reports.

Jesse Bjerke was arrested in the at-gunpoint rape of a female lifeguard three years after the attack when DNA from the crime scene was analyzed by Parabon Nanolabs and traced to his family, it adds. Investigators focused on him based on his description and where he lived at that time. They collected items he discarded for DNA analysis, which led to his arrest and another DNA analysis at that time showed a high probability of a match to the crime scene DNA, according to the Post.

It's the analysis of the discarded items that the Post says Bjerke's attorney is currently contesting, rather than the genealogical work. Chris Leibig, his defense attorney, argued in a motion, it says, that Bjerke did not "'knowingly expose' his DNA profile, his genealogy, his susceptibility to diseases, or his genetic profile to 'public view' by leaving his genetic profile in public," that any analysis of a discarded item required a warrant, and Parabon's findings would not have supported one.

The Post notes that the US Supreme Court rules in 2013 that police can take DNA samples from people who have been arrested, but has not ruled on the analysis of discarded items.