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L.A. Sheriff's halt assault DNA testing

June 23, 2009 9:09:56 AM PDT
The L.A. County Sheriff's Department has suspended DNA testing in sexual assault cases due to a lack of money and staffing.The department halted shipments of genetic evidence to private labs in May after funds allotted for the testing ran dry.

Officials say there is a backlog of 4,600 cases at the crime lab.

The sheriff has been trying to go to outside labs and has even gotten one university to do free tests. Until July 1, they now are only doing 100 cases a month versus 300. It's still going to take up to 12 months to erase the backlog of untested samples.

"We hope that doesn't happen. We hope that we do not have to ever say that to any victim that we could not go through with this because of financial considerations," said L.A. County Sheriff's spokesperson Steve Whitmore.

There is a statute of limitations on prosecuting sexual assault cases. Whitmore says they sent every sample facing the statute of limitations to a lab. He says they've either received DNA results or will get them back before the statute runs out on those cases.

The Sheriff's Department said it expects to receive federal grant money next month and in the fall. The department hopes that cash will allow them to continue testing for a few months.

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