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DNA technical leader presents success of novel project to review sexual assault cases at national conference

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall University Forensic Science Center DNA Technical Leader Jason Chute delivered a presentation about a successful pilot project to review and expedite sexual assault kit cases recently at the 12th Annual DNA Technical Workshop Bode West in Coronado, Calif.

Chute was asked to present at the conference because this approach to reviewing cases has never been taken before. The presentation provided an overview of the strategies, challenges and successes that were encountered during development and implementation of the novel project.

A few years ago, the Michigan State Police (MSP) was faced with addressing a backlog of over 8,000 sexual assault kits from Detroit that needed to be tested.

To start addressing the backlog, MUFSC’s Forensic DNA Laboratory had previously worked with the MSP to provide assistance with the processing and DNA analysis of over 800 untested sexual assault kits for a project funded by the National Institute of Justice.

More recently, the MSP outsourced DNA testing of thousands of kits to private labs, and analytical reports from the cases needed to be reviewed.

To help expedite the review process of cases, the MSP approached MUFSC about participation in a pilot project to help complete reviews of the outsourced analytical data.

Over a one-year period, MUFSC completed reviews of about 2,400 cases tested by the private labs for MSP.

The project helped to expedite these cases for entry into CODIS (Combined DNA Index System).  A CODIS hit links either a DNA profile from a forensic case to another case or to an offender profile. These hits provide investigative leads for law enforcement officers to follow.

Chute called the project a win-win situation. “We provided Michigan State Police with a highly qualified and highly trained workforce to help review their cases, and we generated economic development for us,” he said.

For more information about MUFSC’s DNA testing review services, please contact Chute at 304-691-8946 or