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Senate OKs taking DNA samples from suspects in violent crimes

Associated Press • Apr 24, 2007 at 12:03 PM

NASHVILLE - The Senate on Monday passed a bill to require anyone arrested for a violent crime to give a DNA sample that would be placed in a statewide database.

The measure was sponsored by Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, in response to the unsolved murder of Johnia Berry in December 2004.

Berry was stabbed to death only 12 days before she was to receive a degree with honors from East Tennessee State University in Johnson City. She was 21.

The measure, which Ramsey dubbed the "Johnia Berry Act of 2007," would change current state law that only requires DNA samples from convicted violent offenders.

"We fingerprint everybody we take in, why not take a DNA swab off these people?" said Ramsey.

Ramsey said that a DNA database could help exonerate innocent people as well as help police track suspects.

Attacked by a knife-wielding man in her Knoxville apartment, Berry died in the hallway of her apartment building after banging on neighbors' doors for help but getting no response. Berry's parents attended Monday's Senate session and pressed Ramsey's voting button to help unanimously pass the bill. The companion bill is scheduled for consideration in the budget subcommittee of the House Finance Commitee on Wednesday. (AP) Read the full text of SB1196 on the General Assembly's Web site at: http://www.legislature.state.tn.us (AP) On the Net: Johnia Berry web site: http://www.johniaberry.org AP-CS-04-23-07 1924EDT

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