Crime & Justice

No money for testing DNA evidence, says LA County sheriff

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L.A. County has stopped testing DNA evidence from rape and sexual assault cases. KPCC’s Molly Peterson reports the sheriff says there’s no money for it.

Sheriff Lee Baca told L.A. County supervisors that his department stopped shipping out rape kits for analysis last month. Those packages of evidence include samples of saliva, blood, and other fluids that could lead investigators to repeat offenders in still-open crimes.

Baca vowed last year to cut down a decades-old backlog of more than 4,000 cases. But without enough money to pay for testing, the backlog has grown. Baca says funds will flow again next month – but they’ll run out later this year again.

The Sheriff’s Department has gotten free help from Marshall University in West Virginia. The state’s Department of Justice Lab helps analyze samples for L.A. 46 other counties.

California’s budget woes might mean the state lab has to cut back on that service. For now, L.A. County, the L.A. Police Department, and other agencies will test DNA when detectives request it.