Texans arrested on felony charges would be forced to be added to a state DNA database under a bill filed Thursday by a Galveston County legislator.
Wayne Faircloth filed House Bill 3513, called the Krystal Jean Baker Act, on Thursday evening.
Baker was a 13-year-old Texas City girl murdered in 1996.
Baker was kidnapped, raped and then murdered. Her body was dumped under a Chambers County bridge. Her murder was classified as a cold case until 2010, when DNA tests linked evidence found on Baker’s body to Kevin Edison Smith, a Galveston County man.
Smith was implicated in Baker’s murder only after he was arrested in Louisiana and his DNA was added to a national database. His DNA matched with a sample taken from Baker’s body.
Baker’s family has pushed for expanded DNA testing in the state for years and Faircloth said he was compelled to carry the proposal again this session.
“The parents who have had children murdered have a compelling argument, Faircloth said. “They want to help avoid this long-term suffering for other families.”
Louisiana, unlike Texas, collects a DNA sample from any person arrested and suspected of a felony.
In Texas, DNA is collected from people convicted of felonies, but only in certain instances, all of them serious and violent crimes, before conviction.
Faircloth’s bill would expand the state’s rules to collect DNA when a person is arrested for any felony crime.
Similar bills have been filed in the past four sessions, but only one has made it out of the house committee process.
Supporters of the bill say collecting DNA from more arrestees would improve public safety by more quickly and accurately identifying suspects, and that it would help solve cold cases like Baker’s.
Opponents have raised questions about privacy rights and said expanded DNA collections would only add to backlogs of unanalyzed DNA collections.
Faircloth said this year’s version of the bill had been narrowed in scope from previous versions, which had proposed that people convicted of lower-level misdemeanors also have their DNA added to the database.
Friday was the last day legislators could file new bills without seeking special permission. Next week, both houses of the legislature can begin considering bills that had not been named as emergency priorities by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott before the session began.