What seems to be missing here is any discussion of possible actual innocence cases as were discovered when Dallas found an old backlog of untested biological evidence. Just because the "suspect is known" is no reason not to test evidence, particularly if a defendant recanted a confession or maintained innocence. The suspect you think you know may be the wrong one.
The San Antonio Police Department announced Monday it will begin sifting through nearly 150 of about 5,200 rape kits that were never tested over the past two decades, reversing a long-held policy not to analyze kits if the assailant was unknown and the victim didn't want to pursue prosecution.
Police Chief William McManus acknowledged that DNA information from such cases could still be important. Results from the tests will be sent to the Combined DNA Index System, a national database used by law enforcement agencies.
“We don't want to let any case where somebody was sexually assaulted fall through the cracks,” McManus said. “We want to raise the potential that person is going to get caught by pulling them into a database.”
Authorities said most of the 5,191 untested rape kits, which the Police Department keeps in storage, involve incidents in which the suspect is known as a result of a confession or the case involves incidents in which the victim recanted the rape allegation.
District Attorney Susan Reed said she believes the number of untested rape kits that will eventually be analyzed as a result of the new policy is less than 200.
“If we had 5,000 unknown rapists walking the streets, that would floor you, but I don't think that's the case,” Reed said. ...
Of the 5,191 that weren't tested, McManus said the majority involve suspects who have already been identified — making a DNA match a moot issue.
It will cost the police department $450 per analysis, but each rape kit could require multiple tests, officials said.
In Dallas when a similar cache of old, untested biological evidence was discovered, DA Craig Watkins famously established a "Conviction Integrity Unit" that teamed up with the Innocence Project of Texas to vet the evidence for possible innocence cases, analyzing case files and prioritizing evidence for testing where defendants maintained innocence and the identity of the assailant was an issue at trial.
Are there similar cases waiting to be discovered in San Antonio? It's possible, perhaps even likely, but we won't know if the DA and police chief choose not to look.