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Court gives police 2nd chance at DNA from murder suspect

August 1, 2019

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Police investigating the brutal murder of a prostitute will have another chance to get DNA from a man suspected of the crime thanks to a state Supreme Court ruling Thursday.

In a 6-1 decision, the high court said that while an initial DNA swab taken from Rafael Camey was illegally obtained, a second swab can be taken if the state can show the first wasn’t obtained through flagrant police misconduct.

Camey was arrested for the murder of a woman whose body was found behind a supermarket in Passaic County in 2013. According to Thursday’s ruling, another prostitute identified Camey as someone who had been with the victim and who had exhibited violent behavior before.

Police advised him of his Miranda rights in his native Spanish but had him sign a consent form to give his DNA that was in English with no translation. The sample matched DNA at the crime scene, but a lower court excluded the DNA swab, and an appeals court upheld that ruling.

In Thursday’s ruling, the Supreme Court upheld the suppression of the DNA evidence but reversed the lower courts in allowing the possibility of a second test. The justices wrote that prosecutors can use evidence gathered before the initial test to show probable cause, and must also show that the first test wasn’t the result of “flagrant police misconduct.”

Justice Barry Albin, the lone dissenter, wrote that “allowing the State to rely on the same evidence to establish probable cause merely permits the police a do-over after a failure to adhere to constitutional dictates.”

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