Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $500,000)
Through BJA’s FY 2022 solicitation for Prosecuting Cold Cases using DNA, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office (SAO) will: 1) increase the number of violent crime cold case prosecutions and 2) decrease the number of unresolved violent crime cold cases awaiting prosecution. This will be accomplished through the following objectives: 1) investigate or prosecute at least 12 cold cases during the life of the grant involving violent crime where a suspect’s DNA profile has been identified and there is a reasonable probability of an arrest and successful prosecution; and 2) decrease the number of unresolved violent crime cold cases where a suspect’s DNA has been identified (known or unknown); 3) increase capacity for state and local prosecution agencies to address/close violent crime cold cases; and 4) identify, locate, collect, process, and analyze evidence, including non-DNA evidence.
The overall strategy of the Program, implemented in Cook County, Illinois, is to provide sufficient personnel to handle the increase in cold case homicides where (known or unknown) suspects are identified through DNA. The grant will fund one assistant state’s attorney (ASA) and one part-time law clerk dedicated to handling cold case homicides with suspects identified through DNA. The ASA will work on investigations and prosecutions of unsolved homicides that are at least three years old where a suspect’s (known or unknown) DNA profile has been identified. The ASA will participate in a comprehensive review of all aspects of the investigation. Cold cases often pose unique challenges, such as finding a complete set of police reports, autopsy reports, medical records, witness statements, photographs, physical evidence, and forensic analysis results. Despite these challenges, the SAO intends to hold violent cold case homicide offenders accountable, restoring a sense of justice to Cook County and victims’ loved ones. This program serves an essential purpose in making it known to the community that aggressive homicide investigations and prosecutions will continue despite the passage of time. SAO will generally utilize the Illinois State Police Crime Laboratory for any forensic testing of evidence of cases investigated or prosecuted by the grant-funded ASA.
Additionally, funds will be used for training and travel to keep the personnel up to date on current issues and trends related to cold case homicides and cases involving DNA and other forensic evidence.