Assemblyman Mark Johns (R,C-Webster) thanks Betsy McCabe for her brave advocacy on behalf of the DNA Databank Expansion Bill. McCabe’s daughter, Karen Marie Turtu, was the murder victim of Ronald Lee Vrooman, Jr. who was convicted with DNA evidence.
“Advances in DNA technology have made convicting criminals and exonerating the innocent far more accurate and bring real resolutions to solving violent crimes and murders,” said Johns. “Expanding the scope of the New York State DNA Databank is a critical measure we can take to ensure justice to victims of violent crimes. I call on my legislative colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, to support this landmark legislation.”
DNA evidence was crucial in convicting Ronald Lee Vrooman, Jr. for the murder of Rochester native Karen Marie Turtu in 1993. Turtu’s case would have remained a cold case were it not for the advances in DNA forensics. It was 14 years later that Rochester Police were able to finally close the case with Vrooman’s DNA. Betsy McCabe, Turtu’s mother, attended the event to promote and advocate for the DNA Databank Expansion Bill, which will help bring closure to many crime victims and their families.
The Senate DNA Databank Expansion Bill would allow for the state to take DNA samples from all felony and misdemeanor criminals, which includes crimes like DUI and Buster’s Bill violations. Often, violent offenders have criminal histories, whether or not these are known to law enforcement officials. Currently, Speaker Sheldon Silver has not signed on to the Assembly version of the bill.
Current law only allows for DNA samples to be taken from felons. Johns sponsors a bill which would expand the scope to include all penal law misdemeanor offenders. The assemblyman, however, agrees with the Senate and would like to see their version of the legislation come for an immediate vote of the full Assembly.