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Utah group is building non-profit forensics lab

(Karra Porter, Co-Founder Utah Cold Case Coalition. Credit: Colter Peterson, Deseret News)

WEST JORDAN – A Utah-based non-profit group is one step closer to being able to help cold case investigators in this state.  They believe their new forensics machinery will help analyze DNA samples when the state lab might not be able to.

Officials with the Utah Cold Case Coalition say it’s not necessarily accurate to call this kind of testing “next generation.”  Coalition Co-Founder Karra Porter says universities and hospitals have been using it for years.

“You can get a better profile from a smaller sample, a more degraded sample,” Porter says.

According to her, it was only recently approved by the FBI for forensic investigations.

She says, “This is going to revolutionize DNA testing in cold cases and homicides in the US.”

The device is officially called the MiSeq FGx, and Porter says it can sequence samples at roughly a quarter of the price current machines can.

Porter says, “Suppose you have something and you see two or three people’s DNA on it.  This technology would be able to produce five or six profiles.”

The coalition is still in the process of constructing their labs in Salt Lake County, but they hope to start taking cases in March.  Porter believes they may be able to take some of the burden off the state crime lab.

“For example, the crime lab could be backed up, or, you might have exceeded the number of samples that the crime lab can accommodate,” she says.