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New system provides faster results for DNA tests

  • Senior Criminalist Steven Crotti of the Department of Justice and Criminalist Tanya Kauffman extract DNA using a liquidator, Thursday August 22, 2013 in Richmond. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

It used to take months for Sonoma County detectives to receive test results from DNA samples collected during examinations of rape victims.

But Sonoma County is one of six counties in the state benefitting from a pilot program at a DNA laboratory in Richmond that uses a new method to extract and analyze DNA samples. Since 2011, it has reduced the turnaround time to an average of 15 business days.

This month, sexual assault victims in Lake County began having access to the swift analysis — called the Rapid DNA Service.

"It's going to be incredible, the turnaround," said Crystal Martin, child abuse and sexual assault advocate with the Lake County District Attorney's Office Victim-Witness Division.

The state launched the pilot program in 2011 in Sonoma, Napa, Marin and Solano counties and has since included Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, said Michelle Gregory, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Justice. Lake County joined this month and the state is evaluating expansion into Mendocino, Del Norte and Butte counties.

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