DeWine Discusses DNA Evidence Turnaround Time

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Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on Friday used the capture of a suspect in a Newark rape case as one example of how state crime lab improvements are working.

Last October, a 15-year-old girl had no reason to think that her morning walk to Newark High School would be life-changing.  But it was. 

She didn't know it, but she was being followed.

A security camera captured her stalker on his half mile trek before he made his move.

Detectives told us that he forced the girl under a bridge, into a wooded area.

“The girl was told by the man that he had a gun, and then he forcibly raped her,” said DeWine.

It's not often that the state's Attorney-General talks about a rape case in a news conference, but he did on Friday to illustrate changes at BCI crime labs.

Though the girl reported the attack when she got to school, experts were unable to get evidence of the attacker from her rape kit. Instead, it came from the woods.

"BCI was given a leaf with semen on it that the police had as evidence taken from the scene. And our scientists swabbed the leaf,” said DeWine.

Two years ago, it would have taken an average of 125 days for results.

"So after 12 days, the evidence hit to suspect Zakery A. Neldon, as 23-year-old who is now charged with two counts of rape and one count of kidnapping, and aggravated robbery,” added DeWine.

DeWine said he shifted money from other departments to add 21 scientists and 6 more robotic machines at BCI.

They've streamlined procedures to produce much faster results, in everything from DNA, to drug analysis, to identifying suspects.

He said catching them faster keeps more people safe.

" The detective in the Newark case said the quick turnaround time was absolutely critical,” said DeWine.

Neldon's trial is scheduled for April.

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Previous Stories:
December 7, 2012:
Man Accused Of Raping Newark HS Student Faces Charges In Connection With Second Victim
October 25, 2012:
Man, 23, Charged In Connection With Rape Of Newark High School Student
October 11, 2012:
Police Release Picture, Video Of Man Accused Of Sexually Assaulting 15-Year-Old Student
October 10, 2012:
Newark High School Student Allegedly Sexually Assaulted Near School
October 10, 2012:
Alert Issued After Newark High School Student Sexually Assaulted While Walking To School