Karina Vetrano's parents make plea for familial DNA testing

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Candace McCowan has the details.

There is a new push to allow a controversial DNA testing in New York state, and the family of a jogger murdered in Queens made their case in front of a panel on Friday.

It's called familial DNA, and it works by connecting family members of convicted criminals to widen the pool of suspects.

Karina Vetrano's parents advocated for the testing after their daughter's murder in Howard Beach, and though that case was solved without it, they are still vowing to fight for the investigative tool.

DNA found on Vetrano's body in August didn't match anyone in either the state or national database, but familial DNA testing would have allowed investigators to see if relatives of the murderer were in the database. Right now, the state bans such a search.

In addition to the Vetranos, the NYPD and prosecutors are arguing how it could save lives.

"Make no mistake," assistant district attorney Eric Rosenbaum said. "Without prompt action on familial searching, killers, rapists, those who perpetrate other violent crimes and serious offenses will remain at large."

But the argument against familial DNA is stiff. Critics say it targets communities of color, where relatives of offenders would be treated like suspects.

"To be treated as a criminal suspect is a serious matter," NYU professor Erin Murphy said. "It can result in the loss of a job, estrangement from one's spouse or child, alienation from ones community."

It's not clear if familial searching would've brought the Vetranos answers any sooner, but still they're fighting.

RELATED: What we know about Karina Vetrano's suspected killer

The Commission on Forensic Science will decide if they want to move forward with familial searching, and they will then come up with a policy. After a vote and the public comment period, familial searching could come to New York as soon as mid summer.

Click here for more coverage of Karina Vetrano's murder.
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howard beach jogger murdermurderarresthomicide investigationEast New YorkNew York CityHoward Beach
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