Opinion: Ypsilanti Township Attorney: 'The time to take ownership of this issue is now'
Follow this story here: Ypsilanti Township attorney 'shocked to the core' by brutal 2009 rape, says state reform needed
Ypsilanti Township Attorney Doug Winters wrote the following letter to the Ypsilanti Township Board of Trustees after reading AnnArbor.com article "Police: DNA links Ypsilanti Township man to brutal 2009 rape."
As I am sure all of you would agree, there comes a time when it becomes necessary for a body politic and/or an individual to stand up and take the lead on an issue (which for reasons that are incomprehensible to me have been woefully put on the back burner by the Michigan Legislature and the Governor) which has resulted in a daily and imminent threat to the public especially women and children. That time is now as it pertains to the abject failure of the State of Michigan to properly fund the Michigan State Police Crime Lab vis-Ã -vis the analysis of DNA “Rape Kits” which has shamefully resulted in criminal sexual predators being allowed to roam freely throughout this State (in some cases for years) while the State drags its feet in apprehending these predators when we have the technology at our fingertips to have these predators identified, arrested and prosecuted for their heinous crimes in a timely manner.
I was absolutely taken aback and “shocked to the core” when I read the account of a heinous crime that occurred in the Township back in 2009 which article was posted on Oct.16 by AnnArbor.com entitled “Police: DNA links Ypsilanti Township man to brutal 2009 rape.” I have attached a copy of this account for your review.
It is hard to find the right adjectives to express my frustration and outrage with the failure of our State to properly fund the Michigan State Police Crime Lab which analyzes the Rape Kits in an effort to identify the DNA, which as we know can then be run through national and state databases in an effort to match the DNA sample with a person who may have perpetrated the sexual assault. In the instant case described in the AnnArbor.com article, the defendant is a convicted felon whose DNA sample has been on file with the State of Michigan since 1990 when he was convicted of two counts of vehicle theft. This defendant was ultimately released from prison in June 2005 after having his sentence increased for possessing a weapon while an inmate in the Ionia Correctional Facility!
While it is not clear as to what crimes, if any, he may have committed between 2005 and 2009, one fact which is clearly indisputable is the date in which the woman was assaulted in the Township, to wit: March 29, 2009. During this assault this predator “ attempted to slash her throat, but she was able to get her hand up to block it...the knife cut her hand, damaging all the tendons.” Compounding this reprehensible and vicious assault is the fact that while the assailant was not immediately apprehended “ numerous items taken from the crime scene [were] sent to a Michigan State Police Lab for analysis, which can be a very lengthy process.” To state that a three year delay in having this Rape Kit analyzed by the State Police as being a “very lengthy process” may very well qualify as being the understatement of my entire adult life.
What is even more tragic about this specific case is the fact that after this vicious assault occurred on March 29, 2009, the person who was arrested on Aug. 2, 2012 for this crime had spent the last two years in the Michigan Department of Corrections for carrying a concealed weapon! Again, according to AnnArbor.com, this assailant/defendant was incarcerated from January 2010 to January 2012, wherein he was then released upon society to potentially assault other innocent victims. Obviously, if the Rape Kit had been analyzed immediately after the assault occurred, at a minimum the assailant could have been charged while he was still an inmate with the MDOC as opposed to being released where not only did he pose a threat to his previous victim, but to the public at large.
There is something drastically wrong with this scenario and we as a State must immediately change the funding priorities so as to insure that any victim of a sexual assault crime wherein DNA evidence has been obtained is processed forthwith. To require this victim to wait more than three years to have her assailant’s DNA tested by the State Police Crime Lab is reprehensible and unacceptable to any civilized society.
Ironically, while thousands of Rape Kits remain on the shelves of the State Police Crime Lab going untested, the State of Michigan continues to saturate the airwaves with its “Pure Michigan” advertising campaign and has allocated millions of dollars in funding to try and attract tourists to come to our State. There is obviously a disconnect in my mind as to how you can spend tens of millions of dollars in trying to persuade tourists and even businesses to come visit and perhaps locate in our State when Michigan has failed miserably in allocating the proper resources to fund the State Police Crime Lab thereby enhancing public safety.
We must once and for all act now and DEMAND that our State give the highest priority to public safety and likewise demand this become a priority to our State Representatives and Senators so as to give it the consideration it deserves. This “priority” will then truly make Michigan the state where people will want to visit, relocate and raise families. The time to take ownership of this issue is now, and I will do everything within my power to be of assistance in being an advocate for this issue.
If after review of this correspondence and attachment you have any questions or I can be of further assistance, please contact me.
Very truly yours, Wm. Douglas Winters