Backlog in DNA section at state crime lab

ASHEBORO, N.C. — All crime cases in all 100 counties in North Carolina that need DNA analysis have to go to the state crime lab in Raleigh. Joan Harris’s case was one of them.

“We need answers to what happened to her for us to move on,” explains Zachary Byrd, Joan’s son.

Harris was found shot to death in her apartment back in December. Since then her family hasn’t heard any developments on the case. “Absolutely nothing. We might as well be on day two since she died,” says Byrd.

It took Asheboro Police four months to get the results back from the state crime lab. They told us this is still an open investigation and they haven’t made any arrests.

Several other cases are still waiting in the state lab to be examined. And they’ve been waiting there for a while.

“There is nobody in the state that is more frustrated than I, as the director of the laboratory, or the men and woman and scientist in the laboratory,” explains Joseph John, director of the state crime lab.

Crime lab officials see about 3,900 cases that come into the DNA section. It would take 116,000 hours and 55 scientists, with no time off to handle all those 3,900 cases. Currently the state crime lab has 24 DNA scientists.

“We are doing everything we possibly can with what we’ve got to be as effective and as efficient as possible.

“The bottom line is more law enforcement officers, more district attorney’s, more clerks of court are not going to get the cases from our laboratories to trial unless we are able to present that evidence and we don’t have the people to do that now,” explains John.

John says in order to hire more workers they need more money from the state.

“We’ve got teachers that are wanting money, we’ve got developmentally disabled people, we’ve got the Medicaid problem. We have so many issues,” explains Representative Pat Hurley.

Hurley tells FOX8 this DNA backlog will be discussed as part of the budget during the General Assembly.

Joan’s family is still waiting to hear what happened to their mom.

“It`s unacceptable; there’s no excuse for this,” says Gena Byrd, Joan’s daughter.

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