2nd public hearing held on state's forensic DNA backlog

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A second public hearing regarding a backlog of DNA tests in Illinois murder cases was held Monday.

Carmia Tang's son Jeremy was murdered in September 2017. She's waited almost a year and half to get DNA results related to his case and - after contacting the I-Team and testifying at Monday's hearing - she's finally getting some answers.

"I see now the squeaky wheel gets the oil. You have to make a fuss," she said.

The I-Team found more than 750 Chicago murder cases from the past three years that were awaiting DNA test results at state crime labs after Tang spoke up about her son's case.

"It started out as a fight for just me, but when I saw those numbers, it became a fight for everybody," she said.

Senator Patricia van Pelt and other legislators held a first hearing with the Illinois State Police and victims' families in December, which revealed a total forensic backlog of almost 14,000 cases.

Results for Tang's son case have come in, but she is not able to discuss them.

"The person that testified with the state said even with additional people they could hire it would take them five years to get to the backlog. We thought that was unacceptable," van Pelt said.

One solution discussed at Monday's hearing is a rapid DNA company called "ANDE." A company at the hearing said it's the only FBI-certified technology that can speed up the process, with results coming in within a few hours.

"I have already committed the Illinois State Police to making sure we implement rapid DNA as soon as possible," said Brendan Kelly, the Acting Director of the ISP.

ISP also plans to develop a website to track DNA testing's status all the way from the early investigative stages through to prosecution, Kelly said.

"This is an important part of the criminal justice system that has been growing for years and we as a state have to commit the manpower, the technology and the political commitment and have the willpower to follow this through and reduce this turnaround time and we have got to do better," Kelly said.
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