St. Clair County officials want new evidence vault
Nov. 17, 2014
BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) — The St. Clair County state's attorney is asking the Illinois Legislature for money to create an evidence locker for the municipalities of Brooklyn, Washington Park, Alorton and East St. Louis to share.
State's Attorney Brendan Kelly said current lockers have items scattered among trash, are unsecured and have been robbed three times in the past five years. The current state of the lockers jeopardizes prosecutions, allows potentially dangerous suspects to walk free and obstructs justice, he said.
"The integrity of evidence is absolutely fundamental and essential to the justice system," Kelly said. "If we don't invest in a serious way in public safety infrastructure, then not only will our regional safety be at risk but so will our economy. The status quo is unacceptable to all of us, not just prosecutors and the police."
A 1989 cold-case murder may have been compromised because of poor evidence-keeping at the Centreville Police Department, the Belleville News-Democrat (http://bit.ly/1u1E8j6 ) reported. A man was acquitted of killing a 16-year-old after his lawyer argued some evidence was missing, wasn't tracked and was poorly controlled.
A report has been prepared by the Metro East Police District Commission to inform state lawmakers of the problems surrounding the current storage of evidence in the four cities. It describes human waste that's spilling from a nearby holding cell into the evidence area at the Brooklyn Police Department, as well as dead animals and bird droppings at a secondary evidence storage facility in East St. Louis.
"Any cases dependent upon evidence in those contaminated and breached evidence retention areas will be difficult if not impossible to prosecute," Kelly said. "Justice has been denied and it can't be undone."
The commission ultimately hopes its report will rally support for the funding of a new evidence locker.
Several Democratic lawmakers, including Sen. James Clayborne of Belleville, Rep. Eddie Jackson of East St. Louis and Rep. Jay Hoffman of Swansea, have already shown support for the proposal.
Information from: Belleville News-Democrat, http://www.bnd.com