Federal grant spurs creation of Hennepin County Cold Case Team

More old crimes could be cracked now that the Hennepin County Board has accepted nearly $500,000 to set up a Cold Case Team in the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office and Sheriff’s Department.

The money — $494,433 — comes from a U.S. Department of Justice/National Institute of Justice grant. They hope to identify thousands of unsolved homicide and sexual assault cold cases through DNA analysis. The new team will include a full-time detective, a forensic scientist, a prosecutor, a paralegal and use of the Sheriff’s Office crime lab, one of three DNA testing labs in the state.

DNA samples considered too small in the past can now be analyzed, identifying perpetrators and clearing those falsely accused. There is no statute of limitations for investigating homicides. And Steve Redding in the County Attorney’s Office is considered one of the leading experts in the nation on DNA processing.

The Sheriff’s Office also will get $120,000 to help with the DNA backlog that slows down prosecution of cases.

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