Crime victims' families plead for action on DNA collection bill

One Yuba City woman is among those pleading for state lawmakers to approve a bill that would allow DNA collection from criminals convicted of crimes that used to be felonies. (Mar. 13, 2017)

A Yuba City woman is pleading for state lawmakers to approve a bill that would allow DNA collection from criminals convicted of crimes that used to be felonies. Those crimes are now classified as misdemeanors after the passage of Proposition 47.

"We had been out looking all night for my sister," said Shirley Derryberry. "But when we got the knock at the door and saw the cops we pretty much knew it was bad news."

Shirley Derryberry's 13-year-old sister Doris and 12-year-old Valerie Lane were shot at point blank range, and no one was arrested in connection to the horrific case for more than 40 years.

"For 43 years," said Derryberry. "And if it wasn't for the fact of DNA this case would still be unsolved."

ABC10 was there as William Lloyd Harbour and his cousin, Larry Don Patterson, both 65, faced a judge for the first time. Shirley is shocked to hear the state's DNA database could be in trouble due to unintended consequences of Prop 47. It changed several crime categories including theft, low-level drug offenses, and fraud to misdemeanors -- ultimately excluding thousands of offenders from the DNA database. 

"At the end of the day, we want to make sure that we protect the public," said Assemblymember Jim Cooper. "That's our number one job...not to protect folks our there committing crimes."

Assemblymember Cooper is introducing a bill, AB 16, to fix the issue. It would allow DNA collection upon conviction of only crimes that were previously felonies but are now misdemeanors, including: shoplifting, forgery, insufficient funds, petty theft, receiving stolen property, petty theft with a prior, and drug possession offenses.

"The penal code is full of misdemeanor crimes," Assemblymember Jim Cooper. "We are talking 8 crime categories. That's not too much to ask for."

Derryberry is hoping other lawmakers will agree.

"Because without it there are a whole lot of things they are not going to be able to figure out," she said. "That was the basic thing that brought this case forward...was the DNA."

The bill heads to the public safety committee Tuesday morning. Shirley and other crime victims' families will hold a news conference following that vote tomorrow around 10 a.m.

Copyright 2017 KXTV


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