Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $507,165)
The University of North Texas Center for Human Identification (UNTCHI) is a State of Texas criminal justice agency providing forensic DNA analysis to law enforcement agencies throughout the state of Texas at no cost utilizing funds from the DNA Backlog Reduction Program. The DNA analysis is primarily for UCR, Part 1, Crime Cases, i.e., aggravated assaults, forcible rape, murder, robbery and property crimes. In 2014 there were 62 counties within the State of Texas that submitted cases to UNTCHI for forensic DNA analysis with approximately 51% of the cases being submitted by Tarrant County. UNTCHI functions as an adjunct laboratory to the Texas Department of Public Safety (TXDPS) State Crime Laboratory. TXDPS and other agencies within the state routinely refer cases to UNTCHI which require mitochondrial DNA analysis and those that need familial and/or kinship relatedness statistical analysis.
A variety of DNA technologies are utilized, including autosomal STRs, mini-autosomal STRs, Y chromosome STRs and mitochondrial DNA analysis. Cases involving degraded samples or samples with a low level male contributor, which typically cannot be detected with traditional autosomal STR systems, have benefited from these additional systems. UNTCHI continues to work closely with both law enforcement and prosecuting agencies to select only the most probative samples for DNA testing. This not only provides a form of education to our submitting agencies, but helps improve laboratory productivity and cost effectiveness.
With continued process improvements, these funds will allow UNTCHI to reduce the current DNA casework backlog as well as complete the DNA analysis on a minimum of 375 cases. By the end of the award period it is anticipated that each analyst will complete a minimum of 9 cases per month or approximately 18 samples per analyst per month and maintain or decrease the current averaged turn-around time of 55.6 days per case. The averaged turn-around time includes both mitochondrial and STR analysis. Approximately 3-5% of cases submitted to UNTCHI requires mtDNA analysis which is more laborious and time consuming as compared with traditional STR testing. All eligible forensic DNA profiles will be entered into CODIS v7.0 and uploaded into NDIS where applicable.
UNTCHI is accredited by ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB) under the requirements of ISO 17025 and the FBI's Quality Assurance Standards. In addition to the DNA services, UNTCHI also provides expert witness testimony.