The U.S. Bureau of Prisons has eliminated its backlog of DNA samples -- a backlog that authorities say may have allowed an accused killer Delmer Smith III to continue with a violent crime spree before he was arrested, according to U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan.
“I applaud the Bureau of Prisons for clearing their backlog,” Buchanan said in a statement. “Unfortunately, in our community a violent criminal remained at-large and was able to keep committing crimes. Local officials have said that had his DNA sample been processed in a timely manner, we could have spared several victims. We must remain vigilant in making sure that we do not repeat the mistakes that the Bureau of Prisons has gone a long way toward correcting."
Law enforcement authorities in Manatee have acknowledged that the Aug. 3, 2009, slaying of Kathleen Briles in her Terra Ceia home might have been prevented without that backlog, as reported by the Bradenton Herald.
For months, the backlog, at the Bureau of Prisons and the FBI, hampered efforts to identify Delmer Smith III as a suspect in an earlier series of home invasion attacks in Manatee and Sarasota counties.
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Smith was charged with Briles’ slaying in February 2010. one year after investigators in Sarasota County found DNA evidence at one of the earlier crime scenes. But it wasn’t until after Smith was arrested in the Briles cases that the material was matched with him because Smith, whose DNA was sampled by the Bureau of Prisons while he was in prison for bank robbery, was part of the backlog.
The FBI in September 2010 eliminated its backlog in entering samples into its database.
According to the Bureau of Prisons, its DNA backlog contained 94,231 inmates dating back to November 2010, Buchanan said in his statement.
“DNA is an extremely important and effective tool for law enforcement,” Buchanan said. “I will continue to work with the Bureau of Prisons to ensure that DNA evidence is available in a timely manner to help prevent violent crimes in the future.”