avery Crime lab may 15 2004 tsp
New state crime lab to speed up results MADISON (AP) - A new state-of-the-art crime lab scheduled to open in days should speed up results of DNA tests that could help solve hundreds of cases, justice officials say. The $12 million facility replaces the current lab in Madison, where analysts walk the halls with sensitive evidence and work in cramped spaces divided between two floors of a 45-year-old building, said Marie Varri-ale, the lab's forensic supervisor. No new DNA analyst positions come with the facility, but the lab's one-room layout will help forensic scientists work more efficiently to whittle away at the backlog of evidence waiting for DNA tests, she said. "There's going to be some time savings, no doubt about it," Varriale said. The power of DNA testing was demonstrated in Wisconsin last year when tests helped exonerate Steven Avery of Two Rivers, who had served 18 years in prison for sexual assault. The DNA tests linked the attack to a man already in prison. Keith Findley, codirector of a University of Wisconsin-Madi- Backlog of cases awaiting DNA testing Here's a look at the backlog of cases waiting for DNA testing at state crime labs in Madison and Milwaukee: Madison Cases pending as of the end of April: 395 Cases completed from January through April: 175 Milwaukee Cases pending as of the end of April: 309 Cases completed from January through April: 162 Source: State Department of Justice son program called the Wisconsin Innocence Project, helped clear Avery. Findley said evidence in Avery's case sat for months at the state crime lab after a judge ordered it tested again for DNA, which scientists have hailed as a more reliable identification tool than fingerprints.