The backlog of sexual assault cases in Dallas is still being aggressively addressed

In an effort to resolve past sexual assault cases, the Dallas Police Department and the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office are keeping up their vigorous efforts.

It is really essential to us and something we owe to our survivors. Eddie Garcia, the chief of police of Dallas, stated, “We therefore really wanted to make sure we were on the right track.”

DPD claims that from 1996 to 2019, there were 6,753 untested kits in the initial backlog.

Due to budgetary constraints, the backlog was split into two groups.

An email from the Dallas Police Department stated, “The 2011-2019 backlog is currently being tested at SWIFS, and the 1996-2011 backlog was eligible for grants from the federal SAKI programme.”

The Dallas County Forensic Science Laboratory is known as SWIFS.

According to DPD, 1,880 sexual assault kits were still untested as of January 2023.

Kits from the backlog of cases from 1996 to 2011 were transported to a Virginia forensic lab. Although the precise number was not disclosed, DPD stated that 712 kits were sent to SWIFS for analysis.

The Dallas City Council allocated $2.3 million for experiments in 2022. Additionally, Dallas County has promised to donate $500,000 from a grant from the Sex Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI). From the pre-2011 backlog, testing for about 330 kits was made possible by the funding.

Amy Derek stated, “We are almost done testing the kits.” Derek oversees the administrative operations of the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office’s Sexual Assault and Crimes Against Children Units.

Regardless of whether we receive a DNA hit or not, Derek stated, “We put our all into every single one of these cases.”

In the end, the Texas Department of Public Safety receives all results. DNA profiles must be entered into the CODIS database by DPS.

Derek added, “Our investigators have also worked on those cases every time we have received any sort of DNA hit analysing the kits since 2015.” And they follow up on any leads that may be generated or anything that comes to their attention when they examine a case with new eyes until they are unable to work such cases any more.

The DA’s investigators have been able to collaborate closely with DPD because to the SAKI award.

“Investigators who genuinely work at the Dallas Police Department and spend their days pursuing leads that may arise from testing these kits will be the beneficiaries of the internal grant that we have here,” Derek stated.

Adrian Cortes, 61, was given a 60-year prison sentence by a jury only this month. The DA’s office claims that Cortes’ DNA was connected to two unresolved sexual assaults. The SAKI programme included testing the kits.

The public prosecutor’s office sent a news release stating that the kits were manufactured between 1996 and 2001.

“The case-by-case match resulted from a 1996 unconnected and unsolved sexual assault.A few years later, due to an unrelated conviction, the defendant’s DNA was uploaded to the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). As stated in the press release, it ultimately supplied the “missing link to tie the two sexual assaults together and puts a face to the unknown man who attacked these women.”

Prosecutors were pleased that both victims received justice, but Derek acknowledges that this won’t always be the case given the more than 6,000 kits that were in the backlog.

“It’s possible that the offender’s DNA is not in CODIS.”Therefore, since we are still unsure of who to assign the DNA profile from the kit to, the case would remain unsolved, according to Derek. The primary issue in these circumstances, even in the event of a match, is the individual’s age. Thus, a great deal of time is expended in attempting to find the survivor. And finally, should we be able to locate them at all. in conversations with them regarding their want to take part or not. The majority of these cases involve survivors who are members of what is referred to as a highly susceptible demographic.

Every tip is looked into by the District Attorney’s Office and DPD, regardless of whether a DNA match is discovered or not.

The DPD states that all testing will be finished in 2024 by bringing the remaining untested kits to the Virginia facility.

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