Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Large backlogs for DPS forensic testing

A local story from the Wilson County News highlights how backlogged Texas state crime labs have become in processing evidence from violent crimes ("Clark murder probe stalls in DPS crime-lab backlog," Jan. 5):
On Jan. 19, six months will have passed since 50-year-old Sylvia Perez Clark was found dead in her home on Twin Oaks Drive south of here. The murder shocked residents here, prompting Neighborhood Watch meetings and more.

Wilson County residents had not seen the likes of such a crime since exactly 11 years earlier when 66-year-old Gloria Flores was shot to death outside her home on F.M. 1303 near the intersection of C.R. 155 northwest of Floresville. Flores’ murder remains unsolved.

As of Dec. 29, no one has been charged in connection with Clark’s murder, said Wilson County Sheriff Joe D. Tackitt Jr. The Wilson County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Rangers are investigating the case.

Evidence collected from the crime scene was sent to various Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) crime laboratories for further analysis. But as of Dec. 29, Tackitt said there is no word on when those analyses will be complete.

According to its Web site, DPS maintains 12 labs throughout the state, with the nearest labs located in Austin and Corpus Christi. As with the rest of the labs, these two have suffered from a case backlog.

“We do have backlogs; the length of time analysis takes depends on what they’re analyzing for,” DPS spokesman Tela Mange said Dec. 30. “DNA right now can take as long as eight months; firearms analysis can take 12.”

Efforts are under way to ease the backlog, with the expansion of laboratory space and the hiring of additional forensic scientists.

“However, both take time -- it takes about a year to get someone trained up -- to start making a difference,” Mange said.


Anonymous said...

This has been a problem with DPS labs for many years.

Retired LE

Anonymous said...

The legislature needs to put some money on this problem. I know for a fact that some DWI/death cases have taken over a year to get results. In one case the defendant was long gone. It is simply a disgrace to everyone in Texas that this situation is allowed to continue.