The US Supreme Court will not review the case of a Chelsea man who was convicted in a 2010 stabbing, letting stand a state court ruling that investigators do not need a warrant to conduct DNA testing of lawfully seized evidence, Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s office said.
The high court on Friday denied a request from Manuel Arzola, 47, to review his 2012 conviction in the non-fatal stabbing of another man in Chelsea, Conley’s office said in a statement. Arzola received a seven-year prison term for the attack.
Conley’s office said the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, in an earlier ruling, had rejected Arzola’s argument that a warrant was required for testing on his blood-stained shirt because DNA profiles used by law enforcement reveal private information beyond the person’s sex and unique identity.
In rejecting that argument, the SJC found that “the DNA analysis of the unknown sample taken from [Arzola’s] lawfully seized shirt revealed nothing more than the identity of the source, which is what an analysis of latent fingerprints would have revealed (albeit with less accuracy) had they been found on the clothing,” according to an opinion written by Chief Justice Ralph Gants.
Arzola’s appellate lawyer, Katy Essington, said in an e-mail that she was disappointed by the US Supreme Court denial because she felt the SJC “erred in finding that the DNA testing in this case was not a search under the 4th Amendment.”
She added, “The use of DNA evidence is becoming more and more prevalent in criminal cases and there are serious privacy concerns related to the government’s testing of our personal effects and clothing for the purpose of creating a DNA profile which will then, in most cases, be entered into a database.”
Authorities said Arzola stabbed the man after he refused his request for money or cigarettes.
The victim gave a description of the attacker that matched Arzola, and at the time of his arrest, police “observed a large blood stain on Arzola’s shirt and lawfully seized it,” Conley’s office said. DNA testing showed the blood belonged to the victim, who identified Arzola as the assailant in a photo array, according to prosecutors.Travis Andersen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.