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State crime lab head says rape kit testing is progressing

BOISE – Significant progress has been made on clearing Idaho’s backlog of untested sexual assault kits, but the lab still is not meeting a mandate to conduct tests within an average of 90 days, the head of the state crime lab said.

In an update to a state House committee Tuesday, Idaho State Police Forensic Services Director Matthew Gamette said the agency is working to speed up the testing process as new kits are submitted to the lab on top of the backlog.

The lab is working to utilize techniques that quickly determine whether kits contain any DNA from a potential attacker, allowing the lab to process more kits and run more extensive tests on the ones that may yield vital evidence, the Post Register reported.

Gamette said the lab is not yet complying with state legislation that calls for testing to be conducted within 90 days on average from the time a kit is submitted to the lab when police receive the results.

“I wish I could stand here and report to you that we are meeting that deadline,” Gamette said. “We are not.”

The lab currently has about 600 kits to test.