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Gov. Northam Signs Bills in Charlottesville Expanding DNA Collection

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Gov. Northam signs bill pushed forward by parents of Hannah Graham [FILE] Gov. Northam signs bill pushed forward by parents of Hannah Graham [FILE]

(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) - Gov. Ralph Northam spent time in Charlottesville on Thursday to sign legislation a long time in the making.

The parents of murdered college students Hannah Graham and Morgan Harrington called on lawmakers to make the change. The bills aim to expand DNA collection in hopes of preventing offenders from committing more serious crimes down the road.

Delegate David Toscano was the author of House Bills 12-49 and 12-66, but it was the family of murdered UVA student Hannah Graham who pushed the crime commission to conduct a study that found 70 percent of offenders convicted of a violent felony had at least one prior misdemeanor. Graham’s parents were in attendance at today’s signing.

House Bill 12-49 requires any adult convicted of misdemeanor assault and battery or trespassing to provide a DNA sample.

Had this bill been in place in 2010 when Jesse Matthew was convicted of trespassing, police could have connected him to a sexual assault in Fairfax and the murder of Virginia Tech student, Morgan Harrington before he had the chance to kill Graham. 

"We live in a world of data right now and I think our job is to be able to do the best we can in collecting that data and then determine what we do with that data as well," Gov. Northam stated at the signing.

Albemarle County sheriff Chip Harding and Commonwealth Attorney Robert Tracci also attended the bill signing. They both played large roles in convincing the crime commission to support expanding the DNA databank.

Gov. Northam added that these two pieces of legislation involved team work from many people, especially the parents of Hannah Graham.

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