ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The Taylor County District Attorney’s Office is asking the State of Texas for money to help with the county’s growing need for forensic testing.
Taylor County District Attorney James Hicks went before Commissioners Court Tuesday asking for permission to apply for a $50,000 grant.
Hicks says forensic testing has sped up the trial process, putting the right people behind bars.
Taylor County, however, has limited resources and can’t always afford to test every item needed in a case.
Hicks says on average a blood or breath test for a DWI can cost law enforcement around $180.
Testing items in sexual assault cases and homicides can be even more.
“A test can cost $500-$600 an item and you may have 10 to 15 items,” said Hicks. “You’re talking about a huge expense.”
For the most part, law enforcement handles the initial testing for certain crimes, but the DA’s office now wants to offer its help.
“The district attorney’s office needs to be able to assist them financially,” said Hicks.
If granted, the additional money will act as a cushion for certain cases that require additional testing.
Hicks says the use of forensic testing could also help his office get through the long list of cases piled up from COVID-19.
“Most of my jury trials were probably only 12 to 18 month waitlists. That’s probably doubled,” said Hicks.
Hicks says in some instances a DNA test could solve the case without having it go to trial, which would also help his office get through the backlogged cases more efficiently.
“You may be able to save the cost of a trial, the time of a trial, and move on to another case,” said Hicks.
Hicks received approval to apply for the grant Tuesday.
His office now waits on a decision from the state.