Posted: Nov 7, 2012 5:42 PM by Caroline Flores - firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated: Nov 7, 2012 6:00 PM
CORPUS CHRISTI - The DPS crime lab has been backed up for some time now leaving many crimes unsolved. Investigators say it can take months to get test results back on forensic evidence sent to the lab.
We have video of Gloria Trevino bloody and bruised. She had been raped. She shared the horrific details of the attack with her family who shared the video with us.
"The one that beat me up got on top of me, held my hands and feet. The other one was raping me and I was fighting them," said Trevino.
That was September 26th, 2011. Mathis investigators collected DNA evidence and sent it to the DPS crime lab in Austin. More than a year later and they are still waiting for the results.
Portland Police Chief Randy Wright is having the same struggles with his investigation into a double shooting in June.
"It's frustrating but it's like any other limited resource. We have to deal with what the limitations are," said Chief Wright.
Part of the problem, the current lab in Corpus Christi is a tiny room inside the DPS offices with just six employees. Simply too small to handle all the equipment and staff needed. We weren't allowed in.
District Attorney Mark Skurka says it's so backed up that when it comes to something as simple as a drug analysis, it can take months to get results back.
"When those lab analysts take up to 60 to 90 days we can't even take it to the grand jury and indict it until we know for sure what it is," said Skurka.
But that's nothing compared to the wait when it comes to DNA evidence in rape and murder cases.
"I had a major capital murder case a few years ago and I had to wait a year and a half for the DNA to be done. A year and a half," said Skurka.
Fortunately, a new lab is being built in Corpus Christi and is set to open next year. One that's four times the size of our current one. The new lab right behind the current DPS offices has the ability to hold more scientists and equipment. But for now officials say they will just have to deal with the lab we have now.
That all sounds like great news, but the DPS in Austin recently issued a letter to all law enforcement and district attorneys with some troubling details stating that "seizures and submissions have increased" and that "blood alcohol cases has also skyrocketed." It goes on to say that it has resulted in a "significant impact on the ability of the laboratory system to conduct controlled substance analysis in a timely manner."
And that means making some temporary changes. To be able to lighten the load on the labs, a limit on how many items can be tested in DNA has been set. No more than ten items can be sent to the lab for testing. before, investigators had no limit.
The county also decided that when it comes to drug cases, our lab for now will only test harder drugs.
"We have to be able to prove to a jury or a judge that it is indeed cocaine or methamphetamine and so we rely on a lab analysis," said Skurka.
Skurka says other substances like marijuana and prescription pills won't be tested because officers should be able to identify those without a lab result.
These measures are temporary and with the addition of the new lab, officials hope to get results quicker so victims like Gloria Trevino won't have to wait so long for justice.
Do you have a tip, information about a breaking news story, or a story idea for 6 Investigates? Contact the KRIS 6 News Desk at 361-884-6666 or send us an email.
Look at photos and videos and share them!
| Desktop Weather
Current forecast, hurricane info, and much more!
|KRISTV.COM Mobile Website
Get KRISTV.com on your mobile or PDA!
|KRISTV.COM Mobile Apps
Get our mobile apps on your mobile or PDA!
See the latest winning numbers!
|6 News Team
Read about your favorite KRIS-TV personalities!
|FCC Online Public File
FCC Public File of Records, Reports, and more