Archive for Saturday, April 30, 2005

Wrongly accused’s DNA to be cut from database

April 30, 2005

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— A man once wrongly under suspicion for the BTK serial killings won a round in court Friday when a judge ordered his DNA profile purged from authorities' databases and his remaining sample returned.

District Judge Gregory Waller granted a motion by Roger Valadez seeking the purging of his DNA from databases, but did not rule on Valadez's request to release the probable cause that led police to his house in December. Waller took that motion under advisement.

Valadez's genetic sample, taken as police searched his home, was one of 1,300 tested during the BTK serial killings investigation. It was one of the biggest DNA sweeps ever in the United States, although most samples were voluntarily given.

"Today's ruling should be encouraging to other individuals whose DNA was confiscated," said Dan Monnat, attorney for Valadez. "For one thing, it recognizes the individual's right to that DNA sample and profile and recognizes the individual's right to in essence have it returned."

Prosecutors argued in court that the facts underlying the probable cause that led them to Valadez should not be made public because they are "too integrated" with the BTK case.

In February, Wichita police arrested Dennis Rader, a former ordinance compliance officer in Park City, and charged him with 10 counts of first-degree murder for the BTK killings that terrorized this community for 31 years. Rader is scheduled to enter a plea at his arraignment Tuesday.

On Dec. 1, police hunting for the BTK serial killer kicked down Valadez's door and went in with guns drawn. They took the DNA sample from the mouth of a handcuffed Valadez.

"All of what happened on Dec. 1 was probably the most terrifying day of Roger Valadez's life," Monnat said. "There was no justification for it and understandably he would like to know who all is responsible for it."

That swab ultimately proved Valadez was not the BTK strangler, whose nickname stands for "Bind, Torture, Kill." Valadez, who was arrested on minor housing violations, was released the next day. He paid a $10 fine.

Valadez declined to comment about the ruling Friday. But Monnat -- who called DNA a person's most intimate information -- said Valadez still wanted to know why police raided his house and his mouth.

"If an innocent citizen can't find out why police raided his house, the innocent citizen has less rights than a criminal defendant found in possession of evidence," Monnat said. "When a criminal defendant is charged he will get the affidavit for the search warrant; here the state says the innocent citizen should not get it."

Deputy Dist. Atty. Kevin O'Connor argued in court that the state's interest in keeping that information secret outweighed the individual's interest in the case. He also told the judge that disclosing it would have a "chilling effect" on other investigations.

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