Assembly Bill 97, as amended Friday, would require police to send all sexual assault kits to a lab for testing within 30 days, and that lab would have 120 days to complete the testing.
State lawmakers were stunned by the volume of untested sexual assault examination kits, asking during a hearing last week how the backlog got so bad and discussing legislation to keep it from happening again.
Discussion of the thousands of untested kits that have been collecting dust in evidence rooms across the state — some for as long as 30 years — had members of the Assembly Judiciary Committee wondering who dropped the ball.
Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, asked Wednesday who needed to be “hanged, drawn and quartered” for letting the problem get so bad.
State leaders have been working to test about 8,000 backlogged kits since 2015, and the knowledge that each kit represented a victim weighed on the committee.
“So far, our state, the state of Nevada, has been derelict in its duty to support survivors of sexual assault,” Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford, D-Las Vegas, said Wednesday. “Without this testing, DNA and other evidence linking cases and helping identify criminals goes unused, untested and sometimes even lost.”
Proposed legislation discussed last week could ensure a backlog of the kits never again develops in Nevada.
And that matters to Southern Nevada, which bears the bulk of the backlog: roughly 6,000 backlogged kits. Of those, 2,456 kits had been sent out for testing as of mid-March.
First Assistant Attorney General Wes Duncan testified Wednesday that Las Vegas police have sought eight arrests and 11 search warrants as a result of the testing.
The arrests underline the severity the crimes many rape kits represent.
DNA evidence from 13 years ago ties a convicted serial killer and rapist serving a life sentence in prison to two sexual assaults that predate the crimes for which he was convicted, court records show.