Fox CT Investigates: Backlogged forensic lab sends back evidence untested

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Hundreds of pieces of unprocessed DNA evidence were returned to the Hartford Police Department from the Connecticut State Forensic Laboratory, a Fox Connecticut Freedom of Information request revealed. In some instances, the cases were violent crimes where no arrest had been made.

Dr. Guy Vallaro, State lab director, told FOX CT that the evidence return was a result of initiatives to reduce the massive DNA backlog that plagued the lab in 2011.

“The genesis began out of the committee that was formed due to the problems in the laboratory, and that was one of the ideas coming out of there was to look at these cases,” Vallaro said. “We also indicate that if, at any time, they either change their mind or circumstances change they can re-submit that evidence to us and we will perform the testing.”

The vast majority of Hartford’s returned cases from a 2013 list were property crimes. However, the list also included several violent crimes such as assaults with guns and stabbings. A random selection of three of those violent crimes showed that they were unsolved and no arrest had been made.

Vallaro argued that the cases police departments took back were chosen solely by the police departments with no influence from the lab.

“It was based on: Is a case adjudicated, or is there another reason why you no longer need any forensic analysis? We weren’t asking them to prioritize and say which case do you want first, and we might never get to a case. That never was the communication,” he said.

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