Virginia is conducting a test-run of software that would let the state become the third in the country to perform familial DNA searches, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.
The crime-fighting technique identifies suspects by linking crime scene DNA to the DNA of relatives whose profiles are in criminal justice databases. Use of familial searches are being sought in two high-profile Virginia cases — the East Coast rapist and the slaying of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington.
Denver District Attorney Mitchell Morrissey had offered his office's software to Virginia, and the state has taken him up on the offer, the Times-Dispatch reported. The newspaper said Virginia is now running trials with the software.
Colorado and California are the only states using familial searches now. Critics say familial testing could invade privacy, burden investigators and target minorities. But Virginia prosecutors and the state's Board of Forensic Science have backed the technique.