California DA clears backlog of sexual assault kits, files charges in several cold cases

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A 30-year backlog of thousands of untested sexual assault kits in Orange County, California, has been cleared, leading to criminal charges in six cold cases, District Attorney Todd Spitzer announced this week. 

Spitzer’s office used a $1.86 million grant from the National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative to inventory 6,480 untested kits. More than half of those had never been tested and about 1,705 were still eligible to be tested by the Orange County Crime Lab.

FILE: Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said a backlog of thousands of sexual assault kits has been cleared. 

FILE: Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said a backlog of thousands of sexual assault kits has been cleared.  (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

DNA from one of the sexual assault kits led to the conviction of Michael Ray Armijo, who the district attorney says raped a woman in 1993 while he posed as a police officer. 

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Analysis of the victim’s sexual assault kit in 2019 led authorities to Armijo, who was convicted last year on two counts of kidnapping to commit robbery with enhancements for use of a firearm, but could not be charged with rape because the statute of limitations had expired. 

He was sentenced to 24 years to life in prison

FILE: A sexual assault evidence collection kit in a lab on January 27, 2016.

FILE: A sexual assault evidence collection kit in a lab on January 27, 2016. (Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images)

Hundreds of new DNA profiles were also uploaded to law enforcement databases. 

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

“By clearing the backlog, we fulfilled a promise to every victim of sexual assault that the Orange County District Attorney’s Office will never stop fighting for victims and we will never stop fighting for justice.”