Sheriff's Regional Crime Lab receives funding to reduce DNA backlog

Federal grant was nearly $380K

SAN DIEGO - Hundreds of thousands of dollars are now going to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department Regional Crime Lab to help keep up with cases involving DNA evidence.

Kathie Dalby knows the importance of this type of evidence. Her mother, June George, was brutally killed in 1986 in her La Mesa home. George was stabbed 78 times.

Twenty years later, Marc Jernigan -- Dalby's ex-boyfriend -- was arrested in connection with the crime and later convicted. DNA tested on a towel at the crime scene finally connected him to the murder.

"As far as the technology that was available in 1986, obviously there was none," Dalby said.

Without the advances in DNA testing, she said her mother's case "would still be cold."

Technology continues to advance, and now a new federal grant will help continue that complex testing process.

The money is an annual grant from the Department of Justice's 2013 DNA Backlog Reduction Program.

The regional crime lab processes DNA evidence for all agencies in San Diego County, except San Diego police.

Sheriff's supervising criminalist Steve Guroff said the lab processes between 2,500 to 3,000 requests for analysis and there's always more work ahead.

"We have in the neighborhood of between 100 to 200 cases awaiting analysis and most of those things will be turned around in that 90-day window," Guroff said.

Around 10 percent of samples brought to the lab are delayed, waiting for an analyst to examine them.

"We hope that we can prioritize cases well enough so that we don't jeopardize investigations. We think that we accomplish that; at least we hope we do," Guroff said.

The grant, which is nearly $380,000, will help replace outdated equipment, as well as pay for overtime and employee training -- therefore helping to keep the lab's accreditation.

Dalby said it is comforting to know the technology is improving and that for her, "there was still hope even after 25 years."

Guroff said more than $9 million was issued to various law enforcement agencies throughout California.

Print this article Back to Top