Gil Harrington, Help Save the Next Girl advocate for expansion of Va. DNA data bank

Gil Harrington, Help Save the Next Girl advocate for expansion of Va. DNA data bank (Image 1)

(WSLS 10) – Gil Harrington along with members of Help Save the Next Girl are advocating for expansion of Virginia’s DNA data bank to include all criminal convictions.

They say every day new legislation is not passed, the risk of becoming a victim of a violent predator grows higher and a person wrongly convicted sits in prison.

Sheriff Chip Harding and Gil Harrington, mother of Morgan Harrington, will travel to Richmond to the General assembly Wednesday to push legislation that would expand DNA collection to include misdemeanor convictions in Virginia. 

Harrington said she believes this change would be helpful in the prosecution of predators and so will try to help. 

“If it was in place, both Hannah and Morgan would be alive today,” Harrington said about the legislation.

New York State Governor Cuomo recently gave support to an initiative that allowed his state to be the first to have an all criminal convictions in the data bank. 

According to Help Save the Next Girl, Cuomo cited the following statistics in support of the initiative: 

  • In the 5 ½ years since petit larceny-the pettiest of crimes-has been a DNA eligible offense in N.Y. State , convicted offender samples have helped solve 965 crimes, including 51 murders, 222 sexual assaults, 177 robberies and 407 burglaries.

  • DNA samples taken from individuals convicted of second-degree criminal trespass have been linked to 30 homicides, 110 sexual assaults and 121 burglaries, among other crimes. 

  • On average, offenders linked to crimes in N.Y. State had three prior non-qualifying convictions before finally being convicted of an offense that required a DNA sample to be taken. 

More from Help Save the Next Girl: 

Hannah Graham most likely would have never met her accused abductor Jesse Matthew, if his DNA had been collected when he was convicted of criminal trespass in Charlottesville in August of 2010. His DNA would have generated a “hit” at that time in the databank to the 2005 sexual assault in Fairfax. 

One of Charlottesville’s most notorious serial rapists in the past 30 years is Shannon Malnowski. Malnowski had a felony assault reduced to a misdemeanor in 1992 and a felony breaking and entering reduced to a trespass charge in 1994. In 1996 he raped a UVA student who was out jogging and in 1997 a 78 yr old professor’s wife in broad daylight in some bushes near the Culbreath Theater. In 2000 a student was raped on the Charlottesville High School track. Malnowski became a suspect and we obtained his DNA. It “hit” in all three cases. He was sentenced to life plus 50 years. If a DNA sample had been taken for the misdemeanors, he would have been caught after the first rape and the latter two rapes would have never occurred.

If Nathan Washington had contributed a DNA profile when convicted of a misdemeanor driving on a revoked license in 1998, he never would have been the notorious “Charlottesville Serial Rapist” who raped at least 7 women over a 10 year period. His DNA would have “hit” from a rape in 1997 of a woman in Waynesboro.

The famous “East Coast Rapist” had 18 known victims. Half those victims would have been saved on Nov. 11, 2003 when, Aaron Thomas was convicted of a misdemeanor Assault and Battery. The 3 teenagers out on Halloween night in Dale City, VA would never have been assaulted.

Earl Washington came within 9 days of being executed in Virginia before DNA test indicated his DNA was not present at the 1982 Culpeper rape murder scene of Rebecca Lyn Williams. Years later he was exonerated. The Databank connected Kenneth Tinsley, who later raped another woman in Albemarle County, to William’s murder. Tinsley had a conviction of petit larceny in Martinsville 12 years before he admittedly attacked Williams. If an all crimes Databank had been in place, Earl Washington would have probably never been arrested and spent years on death row. The Albemarle rape would not have happened and Virginia would not have paid to incarcerate and prosecute the wrong man as well as an approximate 2 million dollar settlement. DNA has exonerated 20 from death row to date.

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