Maryland vs King Forensic Case-1

MARYLAND, Petitioner
Alonzo Jay KING, Jr.


In 2003, a man broke into a woman’s house with his face concealed, armed with a gun, and raped her. The police were unable to find the victim but were able to get the assailant’s DNA  from the victim.

Later in 2009, Alonzo king was arrested for endangering a group of people using a shotgun and charged with assault. DNA collection act in Maryland gives authority to police to collect DNA samples from people for a serious crime. The acts limit the information added to the DNA database and how the information is used. No purpose other than DNA identification is permitted. Police take DNA swabs from people who are arrested for serious crimes. King’s buccal swab was taken and was submitted to the Maryland DNA Database. Alonzo king’s DNA was a match to the DNA obtained from a rape case unsolved 10 years ago.

Maryland officer submitted the evidence in front of the court and procured a warrant to take a second buccal swab sample. King filed a motion to suppress the DNA evidence stating that his Fourth Amendment rights were broken. The judge denied his motion. The trial court found him guilty and sentenced him to life in prison.

The Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution provides the right of people to be secure in their persons’ houses paper and effect against unreasonable searches and seizures. The goal of this amendment is to protect people’s privacy and give them freedom from unreasonable intrusions by the government.

Alonzo King appealed to the Maryland Court of Appeals. The Maryland court of appeals stated that DNA sampling was against the fourth Amendment act. The case was taken to the supreme court in February 2013 and the decision was in June 2013. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in the court. Kennedy argued that the buccal swabbing procedure is a similar procedure to fingerprinting and photographing. When officers arrest suspects in support of a probable cause to hold for serious crimes, they could bring the suspect to the station in custody and can analyze DNA using buccal swabs. It is a legal procedure and is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment act.


DNA Analysis is significant and is the gold standard of any Forensic criminal investigations. The DNA sample was collected from the assailant using a procedure known as Buccal swab. Buccal cell collection involves wiping of buccal cells using filter paper or cotton swab. The procedure is simple and quick since it does not involve any surgical procedure. The DNA sample was extracted and digested using the restriction enzyme and is electrophoresed. After electrophoresis DNA fragments are separated by size because of the unique DNA sequence. Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism (RFLP) was used to analyze King’s DNA sample.

Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism (RFLP)

Restriction fragement length polymorphism

Fundamentals of Forensic DNA Typing

Alec Jeffrey started using the RFLP method to cut VNTR around DNA. RFLP uses restriction enzymes to cut the DNA and the fragments of DNA are transferred to the nylon membrane. The hybridization of the membrane to the labeled DNA probe determines the size of the fragment. The RFLP method takes several weeks to complete. The restriction enzymes used normally in the United States were HaeIII, HinfI, and PstI. The most common one was the HaeIII. This method requires more amount of DNA and is difficult to analyze the DNA using degraded samples. Multi-locus RFLP probes provide a lot of information and are variable, but the process is very expensive and involves intensive labor.


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