Attorney General: $9 million needed to complete remaining rape kit testing
RALEIGH, N.C. (WECT) - More than 15,000 rape test kits have gone untested in North Carolina due to an extensive backlog - but Attorney General Josh Stein is working to fix that. On Tuesday, Stein addressed the issue and expressed the need for even more money to process the remaining kits.
Following new legislation and additional funding the state was able to start addressing the number of untested kits, and their efforts are already yielding results.
“We have completed testing on nearly 3,000 kits - 2,965, and have another 5,444 in process. Of the ones that we have tested 1,055 include samples that could be uploaded into the national database CODIS,” Stein said. “Of those, nearly half, 470, had a hit to either an individual or to a suspect in another sexual assault.”
Even locally, the Wilmington Police Department had a backlog of kits that went untested for years, when asked about it, Captain Thomas Tilmon with Wilmington Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division explained.
“In the 90′s and 2000′s, the lab was getting picky about what cases we were allowed to send them and that caused a backlog in most agents’ evidence repository,” said Captain Tilmon, “We’re trying to do that backlog and make sure that those cases get analyzed too.”
And locally, the testing has proved fruitful. Wayne Soller is currently facing charges of a rape that occurred more than 20 years ago in Wilmington, that trial is underway now.
While the state and law enforcement agencies are making progress, Stein says more money is needed in order to keep processing the kits.
“The cost of testing a kit has increased from $700 to $1,245, that’s an increase of more than 75%, and its the reason why we are requesting the General Assembly appropriate an additional $9 million in one-time funding so we can outsource all of the remaining kits,” Stein said.
With that additional funding, all of the rape kits could be tested and examined within the next two years, he said.
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