Investigation over child born to woman in vegetative state raises questions over DNA gathering

PHOENIX (FOX 10) -- As Phoenix Police continues with its sexual assault investigation into a female patient in vegetative state at Hacienda Healthcare who gave birth to a child, there are questions over the collection of DNA samples.

On Tuesday, officials with Hacienda Healthcare said Phoenix Police served a search warrant on that same day to obtain DNA from male Hacienda Healthcare staffers. In a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Phoenix Police Sergeant Tommy Thompson said DNA search warrants have been issued by a Superior Court judge.

"Buccal swabs are used to obtain DNA, which is gonna be one of the key evidentiary factors we use in investigating this, and bringing it to a closure," said Sgt. Thompson.

Sgt. Thompson said he doesn't known whether anyone has declined to give DNA evidence.

"The process is we ask people voluntarily, and sometimes, people have the right to refuse, but then we come back with a court order," said Sgt. Thompson.

"DNA is 99.9% accurate in the criminal justice system," said attorney Benjamin Taylor, who spoke with FOX 10's Jennifer Martinez about teh DNA swabs. There are people who are concerned their DNA would go into a database, even if they are innocent.

"Under Arizona law, police officers can go and do an investigation for a suspect's DNA," said Taylor. "However, under law, you have to be either charged, arrested or convicted for a crime in order for that DNA to go into a DNA database."

If there is a match in the swabs taken, the suspect will be arrested and charged.

"Eventually have a trial to see whether or not they'll get convicted, and their DNA will then go into the DNA database, once they have been convicted of a crime," said Taylor.

On Wednesday, Sgt. Thompson said the investigation will not be a short-term one.