In 2009, Alonzo King allegedly menaced a group of people with a shotgun. He was arrested and charged with first- and second-degree assault. During booking, officers swabbed his cheek for purposes of DNA identification. His DNA matched an unsolved 2003 rape case. After additional samples were obtained from King, the match was verified and he was convicted of the cold-case rape.
The FBI DNA identification standard used, which is required of all laboratories participating in the 50 state and federal Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), tests 13 CODIS loci from non-identifying “junk DNA,” which contain sufficient information to identify a person to a near-certainty (about 1 in 100 trillion). This minimizes privacy concerns, as the junk non-coding DNA is only useful for identification purposes, and contains no information on genetic traits, disorders, or dispositions.
In an ideologically-odd 5-4 decision, with conservative and liberal members on both sides of the split, the court reversed the Maryland Supreme Court and reinstated King’s conviction, finding DNA identification to be a reasonable search and an evolution of traditional police identification procedures.