Steamboat sex assault case results delayed |

Steamboat sex assault case results delayed

CBI office in Grand Junction faces backlog in DNA analysis

Zach Fridell

— The Steamboat Springs Police Department doesn't have much to work with in the investigation of a reported sexual assault from October, the lead detective said Monday. The only evidence in the case — a possible DNA sample — has been housed at the Colorado Bureau of Investigation office in Grand Junction since last year, and there's no guarantee the police will get results anytime soon.

In October, a woman reported to police that she was sexually assaulted at the corner of 11th and Oak streets in downtown Steamboat Springs.

"There's just absolutely nothing to work with," Detective Dave Kleiber said Monday. "There's no witness, the victim was unable to provide any type of information, no physical evidence left at the scene we could take in any direction. Really the only thing we're left with is the information that may have been left behind that was collected during the sex assault examination."

Kleiber said it's routine for the CBI to have a slow response time, and it has been that way for many years. In the 2000 murder case of Lori Bases, Kleiber said the DNA comparisons from CBI weren't ready two years later, when police were ready to take Thomas Lee Johnson to trial.

Dave Linnertz, director of the CBI's Grand Junction office, said the office has a backlog but that it's doubling the staff in the DNA department from two to four workers to help cut down on delays. CBI's Grand Junction office serves 13 counties in Western Colorado. The office had a longstanding backlog of fingerprints but made an effort in recent months and has processed all outstanding cases, Linnertz said.

Linnertz said he didn't have the information about the Steamboat Springs case immediately available, but he said the office puts a priority on cases with upcoming deadlines.

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"Most of the DNA cases that are submitted to us are homicide and sexual assault," Linnertz said, "A lot of stuff is dictated by court dates. Normally, we get notified of court dates, discovery dates, statutes of limitation. … Having said that, we also try to look at the nature of the crimes and the types of crimes."

Linnertz said that without looking up the case, something that could not be done Monday, he wasn't sure how much longer it would take to get the evidence processed.

— To reach Zach Fridell, call 871-4208 or e-mail

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