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Prosecuting Cold Cases Using DNA

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Awardee County
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $535,000)

The Office of the Queens County District Attorney (QDA) seeks funding under the “Prosecuting Cold Cases Using DNA” grant program to prosecute violent crime cold cases where DNA from a suspect has been identified, and to decrease the number of violent crime cases awaiting prosecution.  QDA is responsible for the investigation and prosecution of all criminal conduct that occurs in Queens County, NY.  With a $75 million annual budget, QDA is staffed with approximately 350 assistant district attorneys (ADAs) and an additional 450 investigators, paralegals, and other support personnel.  

In 2020, QDA created a unit devoted exclusively to prosecuting cold cases.  With ADA Karen Ross as the Unit Chief, the Cold Case Unit is the first unit ever in Queens County dedicated entirely to investigating and solving the County’s oldest and most challenging unsolved homicide cases. The unit uses groundbreaking forensic testing and cutting-edge investigative techniques to examine unsolved crimes to bring long-awaited justice to victims and their families. To enhance current efforts and to meet burgeoning demands, QDA requests $470,000 over 36 months and proposes to implement an expanded and enhanced Cold Case Prosecutions Initiative.   

The overall goals and objectives of the project are to increase the number of Cold Case Prosecutions where a suspect’s DNA has been identified, to increase QDA’s capacity to investigate and close violent crime cases, to decrease the number of unresolved cold cases where suspect DNA has been identified, to enhance inter-agency cooperation through data sharing with partner agencies, and to increase the participation of Queens residents in assisting the law enforcement community. Achieving these goals and objectives will increase the overall quality of criminal justice in Queens County.  Specifically, QDA seeks to implement the following key deliverables:  

Increased testing capacity of QDA’s Cold Case Unit.
Increased review and subsequent prosecution of currently identified unsolved cases where DNA from a suspect has been identified.
Enhanced inter-agency cooperation.
Dedicated staffing targeting violent crime cold homicide cases where DNA from a suspect has been identified. 
Enhanced QDA expertise of all emerging developments in forensic science.
Enhanced data entry and data sharing by entry of all “criteria” cases into the ViCAP and NamUs databases and  entry of all non-DNA evidentiary information into the appropriate databases.
Increased number of case brought up to current investigative standards using DNA and Forensic Genetic Genealogy and/or Familial Searching

Date Created: December 20, 2021