* NPR Illinois…
Hundreds of Chicago murder cases from as far back as 2014 have DNA evidence from the crime scene: it just hasn’t been processed yet by Illinois’ Forensic Science Lab. State senators met in Chicago on Monday to find out why.
An investigative report from a Chicago TV station revealed about 750 DNA samples had been sent to the state crime lab, but were never touched. That’s led to delays in solving murder cases from as far back as 2014.
Carmia Tang of Chicago is with The Sisterhood, a gun violence advocacy group. She told the Senate Public Health committee about her son Jeremy, who was murdered in September 2017. More than a year later, the DNA in his case is still sitting in a crime lab.
“Just to know that my child wasn’t even worth processing his DNA is an insult to me as a taxpayer,” she fumed.
Representatives from the Illinois State Police, which runs the crime lab, say staff shortages and changes in how DNA samples from sexual assault cases are processed is to blame. They say Illinois’ nearly three year budget impasse also played a small role; a few private vendors that help process DNA samples no longer do business with the state. Still, gun violence advocacy groups have called that answer “unacceptable.”
* There are no quotation marks on this next passage, but if this summary is accurate, it’s the absolute height of bureaucratic blame-shifting…
Lt. Colonel Sean Cormiere, with the Division of Forensic Sciences, said the problem started in 2010, when a new law was passed that requires quicker processing of DNA for sexual assault cases.
So, the problem isn’t the backlog, the problem is the law requiring quicker processing. Right. Stick with that.
* Fox 32…
Crime lab officials said it could take up to five years to reduce the current backlog of over 13,000 cases. […]
State police told Senator Patricia Van Pelt that the latest crime lab numbers statewide show an overall backlog of 13,390. Those are cases which have been at the lab for over 30 days. Three-thousand-six-hundred and ninety-one of those are waiting for DNA analysis. The others include drugs or weapons analysis.
Last Fall, when FOX 32’s Mike Flannery raised questions about the backlog, state police downplayed the problem. On Monday, they admitted that budget and hiring issues have helped create the backlog.
“We did have a period of time with the budget impasse that made it a little more challenging to get things done. Vendors did shut off. We found ways around it. We had to work very closely with vendors. Did we have any vendors that did shut us off? Yes,” said Col. Sean Cormier.
* Well at least he’s finally on record…
After answering questions from the committee for more than an hour, Cormier said he wanted to make it clear that the State Police was not trying to pass the buck.
“This is not an effort to make an excuse for where we are right now,” he said. “We are absolutely not happy with the backlog and turnaround time.”
This problem is not new. It goes back many years. It’s part of the hollowing out of Illinois government and, like every other fiscal problem, was exacerbated by the impasse.
* ABC 7…
Last month, Carmia Tang said her son Jeremy’s case has still not been processed. He was murdered in September 2017 and she said that the “The DNA may give justice.”
On Monday, she echoed those concerns to state leaders.
“It started about Jeremey and I wanted to fight for Jeremy but it’s so much bigger than that now. It’s about everybody,” Tang testified.
Reginice McBride lost her son, 36-year-old Ronald James, last year. The father of five was shot in the head during a robbery near the United Center while he was in his car.
“They told me they have the DNA from a mask a young man wore,” McBride said through tears. “I want justice for my child. I want justice for my grandchildren.”