More than 3,000 DNA samples awaited tests at state police lab, report says -- Gazette.Net


More than 3,000 DNA samples had yet to be inspected by the end of 2011, according to a state report released Wednesday.

Of those backlogged cases, 55 were from Montgomery County.

The Maryland Office of Legislative Audits released the report, an analysis of 2011 crime scene DNA collection.

Across the state, local law enforcement agencies reported needing an average of 110 days to process DNA samples and Montgomery County authorities averaged 98 days to process the samples, the report said.

Samples are sent to six labs across the state. At the Maryland State Police’s Pikesville lab, the largest, the waiting period until samples are processed runs from about one to one and a half months, said Teresa Long, state police forensic sciences division director.

The report notes, however, those numbers are not completely clear because different jurisdictions have varying standards as to what begins or completes a case, what processing DNA entails and if re-submissions of samples are counted in the processing period.

The report analyzes the type of crime for which DNA is routinely collected, the average time between collection and analysis and the number of samples that had not been processed as of Dec. 31, 2011.

“When we get cases submitted here, they come with a chain of custody with the crimes labeled on them,” Long said. “We’re looking for biological fluids like blood, saliva, semen, and we’re looking for the link between the subject and victim in the crime.”

Of the 135 local law enforcement agencies surveyed, 58 reported at least one instance where DNA was collected, the report said. Montgomery County police reported collecting DNA 208 times in 2011.

Burglaries were the most common crime associated with collection. County authorities collected 68 samples in connection to such crimes. There were 34 sexual-assault related collections in the year and 25 robbery collections.

All other crimes, including homicides and assaults among others, warranted 78 collections.

County police never collected DNA for crimes of child abuse and theft in 2011.

Statewide, burglaries accounted for 28.5 percent of samples and sexual assaults, 19.3 percent.

“DNA collection can be part of a thorough approach to prosecution,” Montgomery County State’s Attorney spokesman Ramon V. Korionoff said. “It can help the prosecution prove their case in court, and it can help exonerate people from involvement in a case or crime.”