Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $500,000)
With a population of 1,472,654, Bronx County accounts 17% of the population of New York City. Yet in 2021 over 30% of NYC’s murders occurred in the Bronx and almost 25% of the rapes. Crime rates are at the highest they have been since 1996. As crimes occur, cold cases continue to accumulate.
The twin complementary goals of this project are to increase the number of prosecutions of violent crime cold cases (especially cases of homicide and sexual assault and rape) and to decrease the number of awaiting/pending prosecutions of unresolved violent crime cold cases. We hope to achieve these goals through four objectives by: 1) Prosecuting violent crime cold cases where suspects have been identified through DNA evidence; 2) Decreasing the number of unresolved violent crime cold cases where suspect DNA has been identified (suspect(s) may be known or unknown); 3) Increasing our capacity of our Office to address/close violent crime cold cases; and 4) Identifying, locating, collecting, processing, and analyzing evidence, including non-DNA evidence, to assist prosecutors with the litigation of violent crime cold cases where DNA from a suspect has been identified.
If funded, the Forensic Science Unit (FSU) of the Bronx District Attorney’s Office will be able to assess approximately 50 “new” homicide and sexual assault cold cases, submit appropriate cases for genetic testing and receive actionable leads.
The project will lead to an increase in the capacity FSU and enhance inter-agency cooperation by partnering with outside laboratories and agencies; and move cold cases forward by utilizing current and new DNA technologies. Priority consideration 1 (A and B) is requested to promote racial equity in the Bronx among large population of underserved and marginalized who have been victims of violent crime through murder, rape, and sexual assault (see Narrative p. 12).
Funding for this project will allow FSU to hire a new full time Assistant District Attorney and assign an investigator/analyst to dedicate 80% of her time to the project. Funds will also support training for Bronx prosecutors. Finally, there will be increased testing for forensic genetic genealogy that will provide investigative freedom by outsourcing genealogy. Utilizing outside laboratories will provide newer DNA techniques that are not readily available to the FSU. These strategies should lead to solving cold cases in the Bronx from crimes that were committed from 1978 to 2020. These cases otherwise could remain unsolved.