DNA taken from someone acquitted of a crime may be retained and used in subsequent investigations, according to a unanimous opinion by the Ohio Supreme Court on Thursday that said such people don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy.
In the 7-0 opinion written by Justice Robert Cupp, the court said that if the DNA is obtained legally during a criminal investigation, it may be used in a separate investigation down the road.
The decision stems from the case of a Cleveland man who was acquitted in the 2005 rape of his girlfriend’s 7-year-old daughter but later was convicted of a 2007 murder.
Authorities had taken a DNA sample from Dajuan Emerson, 34, in the rape investigation. Emerson was acquitted, but the sample was retained in the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System and matched blood found on a door handle at the scene of the 2007 murder of 37-year-old Marnie Macon of Cleveland.
Macon had been stabbed 74 times, and prosecutors said the lower half of her body had been sanitized in an effort to destroy any semen left behind.
Emerson, who is now serving a life sentence stemming from his aggravated- murder conviction, had argued that the state violated his constitutional rights by retaining his DNA and should have used it only for the rape investigation.
The justices denied that argument and said Emerson’s DNA was obtained through a proper search warrant and that he never challenged the validity of that warrant.