Keeping DNA in death penalty cases a tool for justice

Acquire DigitalNews

DNA evidence can play a crucial role in identifying the guilty or exonerating the innocent. That is why I am sponsoring SB 2342, the DNA Preservation Act.

​SB 2342 seeks to address one shortcoming in the way our state deals with DNA or “biologic evidence.”

While, in almost all death penalty cases, biologic evidence is catalogued and maintained until the execution of the convicted criminal, Tennessee does not mandate that this occurs. During a review of the death penalty in Tennessee, the American Bar Association specifically noted this weakness.

SB 2342 seeks to resolve this issue by codifying, in death penalty cases, all biological evidence collected for that case be preserved until the defendant is executed, dies or is released from prison.

In death penalty cases, it is typically 20 to 30 years before the sentence is carried out.

As a result, there is a two-three decade window when forensic science can advance and allow for more precise evaluation of biologic evidence.

While these potential advancements might have no impact on a particular case, in some circumstances, they might. That is why SB 2342 is so important.

​While there are countless instances where DNA evidence has exonerated the innocent or identified the true culprit, no story is more powerful than that of Tennessean Ray Krone.

In 1992, Krone was tried, convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of a bartender in Phoenix.

After winning a new trial in 1996, Krone was given a life sentence instead. Both convictions were based on a combination of eyewitnesses and testimony from “bite mark” experts.

Read more here.