US

Cops Take Middle Schoolers' DNA in Murder Investigation Without Parental Consent

"So how do we know a juvenile … is consenting in a knowing and intelligent way?"

Some students from Albert Einstein Middle School were interviewed and had DNA samples taken. (Photo: Sacramento Unified School District)

In early March, Jessica Funk-Haslam, 13, of Sacramento, Calif., was found stabbed and beaten in a local park. Authorities have been investigating the murder of the 8th grader since but have not been able to pin-point a suspect, according to Yahoo! News. Covering all their bases, the Sacramento Sheriff's Department has been interrogating fellow students and even took DNA samples at the time.

(Related: Fed court upholds Calif. law that people arrested for felonies must give DNA)

It's this process and the lack of parental consent for the DNA retrieval that has some parents upset. The Los Angeles Times has more:

"My child's in a room with two detectives being questioned and grilled and I'm sure he was quite frightened, which is very upsetting," said Michaela Brown, the mother of one of the students who was questioned.

Brown says a friend of her son who's also been questioned more than once in this investigation has left the school because of the treatment by other students who found out.

But authorities state they do not need parental consent to take a cheek swab as the students at Albert Einstein Middle School were capable of giving consent. The LA Times reports if a blood sample were needed, the authorities would then need parent permission and a warrant.

Even with legal experts saying the detectives were within their rights to take the swabs, some question whether students at this age are really mature enough to provide consent in such a situation. The Sacramento Bee reports:

"When we know it's a search, then the consent of course needs to be valid," [Laurie Kubicek, a criminal justice professor at California State University, Sacramento] said. "So how do we know a juvenile … is consenting in a knowing and intelligent way?"

Learn more about the gruesome murder and the case here. The LA Times has a video report on the investigation here.

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