WWAY INVESTIGATION: NC State Crime Lab Conundrum

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Officials at the North Carolina state crime lab say they are making progress on their turn around time for lab results, but they still have a long way to go.

Some criminal cases are still sitting for six to eight months before an analyst gets to them. NC State Crime Lab Director John Byrd said three years ago, there were cases sitting in lab that were more than two-years-old.

Byrd said the biggest factor is a June 2009 Supreme Court case that set a precedent saying forensic scientists must present live testimony in criminal trials. He said, while his employees sit in a courtroom, evidence sits as well.

There is another issue. That is funding for employees, turnover, and inventory. New Hanover County Prosecutor Tom Old said it is costing more than just time.

“It not only slows cases down, but it also it brings to bare a huge burden on counties having to house prisoners waiting for trial,” Old said. “It’s just a real problem.”

We have also learned that delays can sometimes mean a win for the criminal defense attorney.

Coming up tonight at 11:00, WWAY Weekend Anchor Hannah Patrick will take us to the crime lab, sit down with the officials, and talk to the attorneys who are all dealing with the problem that is affecting our criminal justice system.

Categories: Local, New Hanover

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