Delays in an overworked system and a lack of knowledge are responsible for leaving a Polk County, Ga., man suspected of rape on the street.
Buddy Dewayne Kelley, 42, of Hicksville Road in Aragon, was not arrested after an October incident where a woman told police she was raped in his home.
Kelley is now in jail on charges that he molested a 13-year-old girl in his home Jan. 1.
Charges against him include aggravated child molestation, false imprisonment and cruelty to children in the first degree.
Aragon Police Chief Wayne Sanders said previously that Kelley was not arrested in the rape case because police were waiting on DNA evidence from the Georgia Crime Lab in Atlanta.
That evidence still hasn’t come back.
John Bankhead, spokesman for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), which runs the crime lab, said last Wednesday the lab received the evidence in October. It was initially tested and is in “the routine backlog,” he said.
Bankhead said the average wait time for test results is 104 days. However, he said they do rush requests made by law enforcement officers and district attorneys.
He said no one from Aragon made any such request.
“Had they called us, we would have expedited it,” Bankhead said.
When Sanders was questioned about why a rushed request wasn’t made in the October case against Kelley, the chief said he didn’t know he could do that.
“All the meetings I’ve gone to they’ve said you going to get it when you get it,” he said.
Sanders said the case wasn’t his case, and it was the officer’s decision to not make an arrest until crime lab results came back.
“Some of the people there, as far as the witnesses, didn’t want to get involved. The officer, I think, didn’t think he had enough to arrest him,” Sanders said.
Bankhead said officers and court officials must let them know about cases like this.
“If we don’t know, it just falls in the queue like every other case,” he said. “They have to communicate with us about it. We have a lot of cases to work and we don’t know how important it is unless they call us.”
Bankhead said, however, that a call now would still amount to a wait.
“Even if we started right now, it could be two weeks to complete,” he said.
Crime lab timelines have been a topic of conversation in recent months because two regional labs, including the one local authorities use in Summerville, will be closing in March due to cost restraints.
Some local law enforcement fear that will create an even longer backlog, particularly in drug cases. Bankhead said in a previous interview it wouldn’t amount to a drastic change because most evidence is already sent to Atlanta.
Meanwhile, Kelley remains in jail on the latest charges. Sanders said someone attempted to bond him out Tuesday, but he sent paperwork asking authorities to keep him locked up.
Polk Fish Wrap