Raúl Torrez | Attorney General

AG Balderas Wins Key Fight Defending Katie’s Law & Keeping Serial Child Rapist in Prison

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 22, 2018

Contact: James Hallinan (505) 660-2216

Albuquerque, NM – Today, Attorney General Hector Balderas announced that the New Mexico Court of Appeals upheld the convictions of Joseph Blea in agreement with the Office of the Attorney General. Balderas also successfully defended Katie’s Law, which is critical to holding the most dangerous sexual predators accountable. Joseph Blea was convicted of first degree criminal sexual penetration (CSP) and first degree kidnapping involving four separate victims, one a 13-year-old girl. At the time of the crimes, which occurred in 1988, 1990, and 1993, the victims were unable to identify their attackers. The crimes went unsolved until 2010 when Defendant’s DNA was matched to the DNA evidence collected in these cases.

“I am pleased the Court of the Appeals agreed with our office upholding the constitutionality of Katie’s Law and the convictions for the horrific crimes of this dangerous predator,” said Attorney General Hector Balderas. “Our office will continue to fight to protect victims of sexual violence and child exploitation, and keep the most dangerous criminals behind bars.”

The match was made possible by the application of “Katie’s Law,” New Mexico’s DNA Identification Act, NMSA 1978, §§ 29-16-1 to -13 (1997, as amended through 2013). Katie’s Law requires persons arrested for certain offenses to provide jail personnel with a DNA sample which can then be analyzed and entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) database maintained by the FBI. New Mexico is one of many states to enact such a statute.

In 2013, the United States Supreme Court rejected a constitutional challenge to Maryland’s version of Katie’s Law. The Court held that the taking of an arrestee’s DNA pursuant to the Maryland statute is not an illegal search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment. Rather, like fingerprinting, it is a “legitimate police booking procedure that is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.”

In this case, Defendant asked the New Mexico Court of Appeals to hold that Katie’s Law violates both the Fourth Amendment and Article II, § 10 of the New Mexico Constitution. The Court of Appeals declined to do so, agreeing with the reasoning of the United States Supreme Court in Maryland v. King. Defendant’s convictions were upheld, and Katie’s Law remains in effect.

Please see here for a link to the opinion – https://newmexico.tylerhost.net/ViewServiceDocuments.aspx?ADMIN=0&SID=bbe3f735-
0bce-4d80-87c5-c89a25a6e641

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Raul Torrez

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