Posted at: 12/30/2012 9:16 PM
Updated at: 12/30/2012 10:28 PM
By: Adam Camp, KOB Eyewitness News 4
President Obama is expected to sign a new law soon that is directly connected to New Mexico.
Katie's Law in New Mexico makes it so that every person arrested for a felony gets DNA tested.
The law came to be after Katie Sepich, a graduate student from New Mexico State University was raped and murdered by Gabriel Avila in 2003. But Avila could not be charged with the murder until he was convicted of another crime in 2006 and his DNA became available. Avila committed a felony three months after murdering Katie. That is where Katie's Law comes into effect. If Avila would have been DNA tested after his other felony arrest, he would have been linked to Katie's death.
Since New Mexico signed Katie's Law in 2006, 24 other states have signed Katie's Law.
Now Washington is proposing that the federal government will grant existing federal money to other states that pass the law for the first year of implementation. The money will pay for costs like new DNA equipment and training the testers.
Governor Susana Martinez prosecuted Avila in the murder of Katie Sepich. She reacted to the progress in Washington.
"We have saved, really, a ton of money in the investigative stages, number one. And number two, made people accountable for crimes that would have never been solved if we had not had this law in place," Gov. Martinez said.
Katie's mom, Jayann, also reacted to the possible law.
"When we identify predators early on, it actually prevents crime. It saves lives. And prevents families from feeling the pain of losing their own child," Sepich said.
Katie's parents are working with nine other states in their upcoming legislation sessions to pass Katie's Law. Pennsylvania is the largest state thinking of passing the law.