Orange County Clears Decades-Old Sexual Assault Kit Backlog

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — Orange County authorities have cleared a backlog of untested sexual assault kits going back decades and the results led to the filing of charges in six cold cases, the district attorney's office announced Tuesday.

After a survey of backlogged kits, some 1,700 were tested by the county's crime lab and an outside lab under the DA's Orange County Sexual Assault Forensic Endeavor program, also known as OC SAFE, the district attorney's office said in a statement.

The kits were collected by various law enforcement agencies in the county, with the oldest dating back to 1977, said Kimberly Edds, a spokesperson for the DA's office.

The survey didn't include about two dozen kits collected by the county Sheriff's Department that are currently being tested, Edds said.

The OC SAFE program began in 2016. Testing was funded by about $2 million in state and federal funds, and the last kit was tested on Friday, the DA's office said.

“Every one of these untested sexual assault kits represents a victim who deserves justice,” District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in the statement.

The testing resulted in hundreds of new DNA profiles being uploaded to law enforcement databases in the county and to the filing of criminal charges in six cold cases.

One case involved a woman who was raped at gunpoint in 1993 in Stanton by a man who pretended to be a police officer, authorities said. The woman was raped in a car while on a date with another man. The couple also were robbed and their car stolen.

DNA from the rape kit led to a suspect, Michael Ray Armijo, who was convicted last year of two felony counts of kidnap to commit robbery with enhancements for personal use of a firearm. The DA's office said Armijo couldn't be charged with rape because the statue of limitations had expired but he was given the maximum possible sentence of 24 years to life in state prison.