Rape-Murder Solved by DNA, Privacy Advocates Concerned
The L.A. Times reports that a 19-year-old rape/murder case has been solved by that evil, untrustworthy DNA. What the paper doesn’t tell you is that the murder never would have been solved if we had listened to Times editors.
The article begins:
In their rough South Los Angeles neighborhood, Mary Romer and Alma Harvey watched over each other.
So back in February 1990, Romer didn’t think twice about walking across the street to Harvey’s home when another friend called. They were concerned because they had not heard from the 82-year-old, who had trouble walking and was mostly housebound.
Romer used a spare key to enter the house. As she crept inside, she called for her friend, but there was no answer. In the bedroom, she discovered Harvey’s lifeless body lying on the bed with her arms half-raised and her face covered by a sheet. Police later determined that she had been raped and strangled.
The case lay dormant for a period, but several years ago, “[d]etectives tested DNA evidence found on Harvey’s bedsheet, believing it had been left by her killer. Recently, they got a hit on a national DNA database.” The suspect: Isidro Ponce.
[I]n October, Ponce was arrested in Concord on an outstanding domestic violence arrest warrant from Los Angeles. Ponce was shipped back to L.A. Once in jail, his mouth was eventually swabbed for DNA, as is standard procedure. On Jan. 5, the LAPD got the call that Ponce’s DNA matched that from the Harvey crime scene. A check of Ponce’s background revealed he was a one-time neighbor.
What the paper doesn’t tell you is that, if editors had gotten their way, this horrendous murder never would have been solved.
Back in 2004, the paper opposed Proposition 69, which greatly expanded DNA collection in the state of California. As I wrote in a post blasting the editors’ position, before Proposition 69, “only certain specified serious and violent felonies trigger[ed] the collection of DNA samples under California law.” Under Proposition 69, this limited collection of DNA was expanded to allow DNA to be taken from people arrested for any felony offense . . . like domestic violence. The crime for which Ponce was arrested.
Without Proposition 69, Isidro Ponce would be running around free.
Where’s our editorial about that?
Since 2004, we have seen a spate of handwringing stories from this newspaper, trumpeting the concerns of “privacy advocates” over the supposedly draconian policy of expanding DNA databases. What do the “privacy advocates” think about this arrest?
Will we see an article about that?
Here, from the Times article, is a picture of Alma Harvey:
This is the woman whose rape/murder case wasn’t as important to L.A. Times editors and “privacy advocates” as their deep concern about violating Isidro Ponce’s privacy by swabbing his mouth with a Q-tip.