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Posted at 08:57 AM ET, 04/25/2012

Md. court blocks DNA collection at arrest

Maryland's highest court on Tuesday blocked police in most cases from collecting DNA samples when they arrest suspects in violent crimes and burglaries, dealing a blow to one of Gov. Martin O'Malley's signature initiatives.

The Court of Appeals ruled 5-2 that the state violated Alonzo Jay King Jr.'s constitutional rights by using DNA evidence taken from him after a 2009 assault arrest. That sample led to his conviction in a six-year-old rape case, but the court said it also ran afoul of protections against unreasonable searches without a warrant. The judges ordered that King's rape case be sent back to Wicomico County Circuit Court for a new trial.

O'Malley and law enforcement officials said the decision would set back the state's crime-fighting efforts, but civil liberties advocates and defense attorneys called it a victory for individual freedoms. The state can still collect DNA after convictions, and experts said the court's ruling is unlikely to reverse other convictions.

By The Baltimore Sun  |  08:57 AM ET, 04/25/2012

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