CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Since 2011, the State Of Texas has placed a priority in testing DNA evidence collected during sexual assault investigations, but evidence kits prior to 2011 remain untested. Corpus Christi City Council will vote Tuesday on a way to test those old kits.
Since last year, state law requires all rape kits to be tested by a Texas Department of Public Safety lab within 90 days, which has left little to no time to test old kits. That’s why the council wants to test some of the Corpus Christi Police Department's back-log at a private lab.
Of the nearly 250 untested kits Corpus Christi police still have in evidence, nearly half will be headed to the lab.
“We had about 247 left over, the actual SANE exams,” said Deputy Chief William Breedlove. “We had to go through each one of them to see if it met the statute.”
The police department says 117 kits, all from between 2005-2011, met the criteria of a complete kit and a filed complaint. Tuesday, the council votes to approve a little more than $93,000 to test those kits at a private lab.
“We already have those relationships with different labs and they do have much quicker turnaround because they don’t have the volume that DPS has,” said Breedlove. Victim’s advocates celebrate the move.
“Spending this money to test these kits, it would really set a precedent that survivors are the priority for our community,” said Purple Door community educator Nora Bransom.
Bransom says about 91% of assaults in Texas aren’t reported. Bransom believes these tests will give survivors hope. She hopes they’ll also bring closure for others.
“If we’re able to get DNA from these kits, we could have the potential to prevent so much more of this from happening to others,” said Bransom.
Victims advocates groups like the Purple Door are encouraged. They believe if these tests lead to convictions, other victims will be willing to report assaults.
Money for these tests is available because hospitals now charge the attorney general’s office, and not police, for the cost of the physical exam.