Senate Holds Hearing On State's Backlog Of DNA Evidence In Murder Cases

Rob Hart
December 03, 2018 - 1:44 pm

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- The Illinois Senate Public Health Committee held a hearing Monday about the state's backlog of DNA processing in murder cases.

Illinois State Police said DNA evidence in 3,691 cases are in need of processing, including 752 homicides. The backlog of DNA evidence at the Illinois State Police crime lab could take years to process, according to testimony to the Illinois Senate Public Health Committee.

State Police Colonel Sean Cormier said evidence is being processed, even if the DNA evidence is still on the shelf.

"While 750 some are still awaiting analysis in DNA, the firearms evidence could be underway or completed by now," Cormier said to Illinois State Senator Patricia Van Pelt.

That's cold comfort to Regenice McBride. 

She choked back tears as she said her son was more than just the number attached to the evidence collected from his murder near the United Center last year.

"His name is Ronald Terrel James. He was born January 28, 1981. He was stolen from me November 5, 2017," she said.

Her son was killed in a robbery.  She said investigators have DNA evidence from a bloody shirt and a mask that was worn by one of the robbers.

"I don't even sleep at night because I want justice for my child. I want justice for my grandchildren. I want justice for myself," McBride said.

Cormier says the crime lab needs 11 more scientists trained in processing DNA evidence.  With more staff, Cormier says it could take five years to clear the DNA evidence backlog.

Cormier said the crime lab needs 11 more scientists to clear the backlog, and even then it will take awhile.

"We could erase the backlog completely within five years," he said.

Commander Arlene Hall of the State Police Forensic Sciences Command said the DNA evidence backlog is a national issue.

"We are all out there talking about what kind of resources we need, what kind of technology we need in the labs to be able to address these backlogs," she said.