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All backlogged rape kits have been tested

Great news.

Mayor Annise Parker

Mayor Annise Parker

Houston officials have completed the lab testing and review of a three-decade backlog of rape kits, yielding 850 matches in the national DNA database.

On Monday, Mayor Annise Parker, District Attorney Devon Anderson and police department and crime lab officials trumpeted the newly complete testing of the 6,600 kits as a major milestone. Now, however, those 850 hits fall to HPD and prosecutors to determine whether charges can be pressed.

So far, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office has prosecuted 29 suspects, disposing of seven cases. One was dismissed because the complainant did not want to go forward with the case, and the others resulted in sentences ranging from two years to 45 years, said Jane Waters, head of the District Attorney’s Office’s special victims bureau.

“I know this milestone is of special importance to the rape survivors and their families and friends because pit means their cases are receiving the attention they should have years ago,” Parker said. “If there is a chance of prosecution in a case that has languished or new cases that are uncovered, that prosecution will happen.”

Anderson also acknowledged for the first time that in some cases alleged assailants committed other crimes, including rape, while their DNA sat untested. She said she did not know off-hand how many suspects fit that description, but there may not have been enough DNA at the time to generate a profile in some cases. Waters added after the press conference that some may have involved victims who chose not to move forward with their cases at the time.

“Yes, it did happen unfortunately,” Anderson said. “We are eagerly looking forward to prosecuting those rapists, those repeat rapists.”

See here, here, and here for the background. The last of the kits was sent off to the lab in August of 2013, so at this point all the work has been done. One pleasant surprise to come out of this was that there were no exonerations. I would have bet a modest sum of money at the beginning of this story that at least one wrongly convicted person would be freed as a result of this. I’m glad that none of the men who will be put into prison because of these rape kits will be replacing someone who shouldn’t have been. KUHF and Hair Balls have more.

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One Comment

  1. Steven Houston says:

    Looked at another way, the city expended a huge sum of money and the full efforts of another ~44+ seasoned investigators and more in additional support staff to “catch” a handful of criminals, most of whom would have been caught under existing policies. I say this because they included brand new rape kits in the mix, the kind where fresh leads existed that were not among those kits hidden away for years by people like Clarence Bradford who purposely let them languish for his seven years as Chief and many years as an Assistant Chief.

    Those investigators did not come out of thin air either, so other crimes were left without as many resources to investigate them, crimes that were not outside the statute of limitations at that. As far as the no exoneration’s part, as I pointed out previously, the process for testing kits was designed to make sure kits tied to a suspect charged with the rape a kit came from were tested. Those who think spending money this way for such little bang for the buck better get out your checkbooks if you want to see improvements worth talking about if the same clowns are going to be in charge of HPD much longer.