DENVER — Area legislators hailed Thursday’s passage of Colorado’s version of Katie’s Law as a means of protecting the public and exonerating the innocent.
“We created legislation that is going to save people’s lives,” Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez said Thursday, just before Gov. Bill Ritter inked Senate Bill 241 into law. “I couldn’t be more pleased or excited to see the bill go through.”
Tipton, with Rep. Steve King, R-Grand Junction and Sen. John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, sponsored the bill, which requires DNA samples from anyone arrested on suspicion of a felony.
The law is named for Katie Sepich, a 22-year-old New Mexico woman raped and murdered in 2003. Authorities collected her killer’s DNA from her body, but had no match. At the time, they did not know that Gabriel Avilla later arrested for burglary, had also killed Sepich. Avilla skipped bail after his burglary arrest. Only after he was caught and convicted three years later was a DNA sample taken and matched to the Sepich slaying.
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Her family had to wait until 2006 for justice — and her mother Jayann then joined the push for new laws requiring anyone arrested on suspicion of a felony to submit DNA samples. There are versions of DNA-collection laws in more than 20 states; some of these predate Katie’s Law.
“I’m so excited and happy,” Jayann Sepich said Thursday. “It’s a wonderful day for the people of Colorado.”