Supreme Court decision pleases family of Johnia Berry

10:47 PM, Jun 3, 2013   |    comments
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A decision made in the country's highest court has an East Tennessee family claiming victory.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled it is constitutional to take a person's DNA before they are convicted of a crime. In 2007, the Berry family of Knoxville worked to pass a similar state law in Tennessee.

In 2004, an intruder murdered their daughter, Johnia, while she was in her apartment. No arrest was made in connection to the crime for more than two years.

The Berrys told 10News an arrest likely would have been made sooner if authorities had kept criminals' DNA in a database at the time.

"If they would have had a DNA law at the time when Taylor Olsen [Berry's accused assailant] was first arrested, he would have been known in a matter of months," said Johnia Berry's father Mike Berry.

TBI said it has received 80,000 DNA samples from arrested individuals since the "Johnia Berry Act of 2007" went into effect. TBI spokesperson Kristin Helm said about 60,000 of those samples have been entered into a federal database that law enforcement agencies can use to check up on investigative leads.

"The ability to acquire DNA at the time of an arrest for certain violent felonies is a tool that allows law enforcement to solve crimes that otherwise might have gone unsolved," she said.

The Berrys added that if the Supreme Court had overturned the law, the court would have unraveled a key tool for victims' families.

"This would have set back the legal system light years," Mike Berry said.

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