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Rape Survivors Asking State To Do More With DNA Testing

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Students at several Triangle-area universities are joined by a common goal and a common crime. They are collecting petition signatures to put pressure on lawmakers. Their goal is to win more money for DNA testing at the State Bureau of Investigation crime lab.


WRAL investigation

showed how DNA evidence from rapes and other crimes sits stranded on police department shelves across the state. In most cases, agents will not analyze the DNA unless there is a known suspect.

SBI officials said they want to do the testing, but they simply does not have the staffing to take every case.

Students at UNC and N.C. State have been signing petitions, eventually hoping to collect 2,000 names.

"This is a big topic right now -- a big issue, so the more attention we bring to it, the more people we have behind us," said Heather Smith, who survived a sexual assault.

"For people to feel safe in the community, it needs to be taken care of, even if it does cost a lot of money," said sexual assault survivor Mistie Johnson.

The students plan to turn over their petitions to Gov. Mike Easley and the state attorney general's office. They also hope to convince local legislators to support increased DNA funding.