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Hannah Graham's Parents Make Case to Expand DNA Collection to Catch Criminals

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Sue Graham Sue Graham
RICHMOND, Va. (WVIR) -

The parents of a murdered University of Virginia student are lobbying state lawmakers to expand DNA collection to catch offenders of serious misdemeanor crimes before they strike again.

Hannah Graham's mother, Sue Graham, joined Albemarle County's top prosecutor and sheriff in Richmond Wednesday afternoon to push for that expansion.

The State Crime Commission is reviewing the results of a study looking at how collecting samples of DNA from people convicted of serious Class I misdemeanor crimes like burglary, larceny, trespassing, and domestic violence could lead to hits in the DNA databank to solve other crimes.

Hannah Graham's parents believe that's something that could have prevented her murder.

The study finds that 70 percent of offenders convicted of a violent felony had at least one prior misdemeanor. That includes people convicted of trespassing.

Jesse Matthew, the killer of Hannah Graham and Morgan Harrington, was convicted of trespassing in 2010, four years before Graham's murder.

Her mother joined Albemarle County Sheriff Chip Harding and Commonwealth Attorney Robert Tracci to urge the Crime Commission to support expanding the DNA databank.

Sue Graham says Hannah would still be alive if Matthew's DNA was collected and investigators found a hit in the databank to a previous sexual assault in Fairfax and Harrington's murder.

We always said we would speak it when the time was right and now is the time - an important issue, an important public safety issue - and of course it is extremely difficult to stand up there and tell my story but it's something I feel I have to do to protect other young women in Virginia. Yes I think Hannah would be very proud,” Graham said.

“I was encouraged. It looks like the crime commission on a whole based on their responses to the data I felt like it was all favorable,” Harding said.

Commission members are supporting legislation to add Class I misdemeanor crimes to the DNA collection, which include burglary, larceny, trespassing, and domestic violence. The Commission plans to draft a bill to consider sending on to the General Assembly when the session starts in January.