This editorial appeared in The (Tacoma) News Tribune.
Anthony Casper Dias has become the poster boy for expanded DNA testing – for good reason.
On July 31, 2005, Dias hit a State Patrol cruiser and fled the scene. He was arrested and charged with felony hit and run. Dias posted bail and was released to await trial.
A month later, Dias raped a Fircrest woman in her bedroom.
Had authorities collected a DNA sample when Dias was arrested for slamming into a police cruiser, they would have had their man.
Instead, Dias went on to rape seven more women and girls in Tacoma, Federal Way and Des Moines. News of his spree – in which he entered homes and held the residents hostage for hours – left countless others in fear.
Dias was finally caught because he fell asleep after raping two young girls in their home. Only then were authorities able to collect the DNA sample that linked Dias to the past rapes.
Public safety shouldn't ride on violent criminals getting sloppy.
Last month, federal authorities began collecting DNA samples from suspects arrested on felonies in the hopes of identifying serial criminals sooner. Washington should follow suit.
State Rep. Mark Miloscia, D-Federal Way, has sponsored a bill that would require police to collect DNA samples by swabbing suspects' mouths upon arrest.
Once the suspect is charged, police would check for matches in the DNA information system. The sample would be permanently added to DNA databases only after a defendant was convicted and his right to appeal exhausted. If the person is not charged or is acquitted, law enforcement would have to destroy the DNA sample.
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