The Phillips DNA Project News

Is searching genetic genealogical databases for criminals unconstitutional?

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (WMTW) Lawyers for an Auburn, Maine man accused of raping and killing a woman at the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1993 are asking a judge to dismiss the charges.

Downs was a student at the university at the time of Sergie's murder on April 26, 1993. Her body was found in a bathtub in the same dormitory where Downs lived. Investigators said she had been shot and stabbed.

Down has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Downs was arrested in February of 2019 after investigators submitted a DNA sample from the crime to a company that uses extracted DNA to perform genetic genealogy testing. The sample matched another sample that had been submitted by a relative of Downs.

Defense lawyers claim that searching the genealogical database amounts to an unconstitutional search and an invasion of Downs' privacy.

Downs' lawyers are asking a judge to not only dismiss the indictment against Downs but to also suppress the DNA evidence that linked him to the murder.

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