Task force crafting procedures for handling DNA in cold cases

A task force hopes to keep information from slipping through the cracks when it comes to newly discovered DNA evidence in criminal cases.

By

State News

August 20, 2021 - 1:34 PM

Sen. David Haley, a Democrat on the Legislature’s task force on DNA evidence related to closed or cold cases, said Kansas officials should set the standard for distribution to prosecutors, law enforcement and defense attorneys relevant matches from DNA testing databases. Photo by (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — Members of the Legislature’s task force developing protocol for use of newly discovered DNA evidence in criminal cases endorsed better training of law enforcement officers, prosecutors and defense lawyers to keep valuable information from slipping through cracks of the justice system.

Two prosecutors on the task force were drawn Thursday to the idea of an ongoing educational program to boost appreciation for information on DNA matches available through the KBI’s Laboratory Information Management System, or LIMS. Prosecutors have access to LIMS, but there was consensus not all in the state were aware of this evidence trove. It was presumed many defense lawyers didn’t know much about LIMS or their ability to request database information on cases.

“Education is a huge component that I think we need to be developing,” said Darrin Devinney, the Butler County attorney and a member of the Alvin Sykes Cold Case DNA Task Force. “Not just for prosecutors, not just for law enforcement but it’s also for defense counsel. It’s for those individual defendants.”

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