Brianna's Bill Could Expand DNA Collection

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CARSON CITY -- The family of Brianna Denison voiced support for a bill to expand DNA collection by authorities in Nevada. Currently, Nevada collects DNA from those convicted of felonies and certain other offenses. "Brianna's Bill" would expand DNA collection to include anyone arrested for any felony.

"Obviously this is emotional for me... not only did my son... lose his sister he lost his sibling and the family unit that the three of us have created together," Lauren Denison said as she read a letter written by Brianna's mother.

Lauren Denison was among those who testified before a senate committee at the Nevada State Legislature Thursday.

Brianna Denison was murdered five years ago by James Biela, a serial rapist. Lauren said that if DNA had been collected from Biela after an arrest years earlier, it would have been on-file. Investigators were able to obtain a DNA sample from an attack on a woman that happened about a month before Brianna was attacked, according to testimony. Her family said if Biela's DNA were on-file a comparison could have been made, preventing the attack on Brianna.

"It is possible Brianna would be alive today," Lauren said as tears rolled down her face during testimony.

Proponents of the idea said it would lead to closing unsolved crimes, prevent crimes from happening and exonerate those wrongly convicted.

Markers obtained from samples would be entered into a national database under the bill.

However, critics of the bill said there remain concerns about funding, and whether such DNA collection is constitutional.

The US Supreme Court is currently considering a challenge to a similar law in another state.

"The Supreme Court might uphold part of the law but not another part of the law so I think there could potentially be litigation," a representative from the Clark County Public Defender's Office said.

A ruling from the nation's highest court is expected in several months.

No vote was taken on Senate Bill 243, which is sponsored by Sen. Debbie Smith (D-Sparks).

A similar bill failed to make it through the last session of the legislature.