In 2006, when HPD resumed DNA testing after an ignominious halt, it was announced that there were 4,000 rape kits waiting to be tested. Remember that the lab was first shut down in 2002 because unqualified technicians were handling the testing, correct protocol was ignored, samples were being kept under a leaky roof, and assorted other fuck-wittery. Several years later, that number was bumped to over 6,000.
Well, it appears that HPD has finally sent the last of those kits out to independent labs to be tested. The samples may be degraded by now; there were reports of improper storage, of water leaking onto the kits, etc.
The articles I can find don’t seem to really specify how many of these kits are from cases that have already gone to court, and how many have already been tried. Imagine for a moment going through a trial, knowing there was DNA evidence that may affect the outcome, but not being given access to it.
This is encouraging to me, and I hope to all of you, because someone is trying. Whether the attitude towards the accused has shifted, or they’re just tired of the bad publicity, this is a great effort on the part of HPD.
My only qualm is the curious absence of any mention of how they intend to notify interested parties of the results; once the tests are completed and sent back to the HPD, who will they tell? Will the the defense lawyers in these cases be informed if there was mismatched DNA, or will it simply disappear down the memory hole? How many defense lawyers were simply never informed that there was DNA evidence?
The whole thing reminds me of the Jonathon Salvador issue. At what point does a government entity’s bad behavior call for a complete re-set of the entire system?
All in all, this is encouraging. As far we know there was never any DNA taken in Coy's case, so this will not help him personally. Still, I hope very much that it represents a commitment on the part of Harris County to focus more on justice, and less on expediency.