NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Karina Vetrano case could have gone cold if it had not been for an investigative breakthrough that Queens Assistant District Attorney Eric Rosenbaum described as a strike of lightning.

“We cannot always rely on a strike of lightning to solve crime, and we shouldn’t rely on it when sound scientific tools exist,” he said.

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The New York State Commission on Forensic Science held a public hearing Friday on whether to authorize familial DNA searches.

Familial DNA searching is already being used in almost a dozen other states. It can be used to generate fresh leads for cold cases, by finding relatives of unknown rapists and killers and then connecting the dots from there, CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported.

“How many more victims do you want? How many more cases do you want to go unsolved,” Phil Vetrano said.

Although a familial DNA search might not have helped the Vetrano’s, Karina’s father Phil made the case that the state needs to authorize to help other families get closure, 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon reported.

DNA expert Erin Murphy of NYU School of Law called it a dangerous intrusion.

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“Proponents of familial searches believe the state can single out the fathers, sons and brothers of convicted offenders for treatments as possible criminals — I disagree,” she said.

So does the NYCLU and Legal Aid Society, saying innocent people and their privacy will be put at risk.

New York State does rely on what is known as partial match DNA searching which checks databases in less precise, inadvertent ways.

The NYPD and various prosecutors testified that they need the more targeted searches — with proper safeguards — for when everything else fails.



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