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First-ever DNA forensic lab may soon be headed to ENC

By Amanda Brannon
Published On: Sep 11 2013 05:28:19 PM CDT
GREENVILLE, PITT COUNTY -

The private company called “Genome ID Group, LLC” chose Greenville out of many other places in the nation to build their lab.

"It would be really good to have a facility like that in Greenville,” defense attorney, Jeff Foster said.

In the past, Foster said he has had to go out of town and use experts and labs in other cities because there wasn’t a lab available in Eastern Carolina.

However, that could all change if city leaders approve funding to help build a lab in Greenville.

“If there was a lab in Greenville that did those same services, is reliable and did quality work I think it would be a real asset to attorneys not only in Greenville but in the eastern part of the state,” Foster said.

In order to make this happen, the city needs to pay $100,000 out of their economic development funds to get the project started. Mayor Allen Thomas said the money will come back to them when the lab is up and running.

“This particular opportunity will have an average salary of $94,000.  It could be several hundred jobs over a period of time,” he said.

Thomas said at least 30 jobs will be created initially. He believes this forensic lab will help put the city on the map.

“We are very excited. We're at the final steps of this,” he said.

Thomas expects to make an announcement about the lab in the next month. He could not tell us where the lab would be located if approved.

While the lab would benefit defense attorneys in the area, prosecutors may not reap the same benefits.

District Attorney Kimberly Robb told NewsChannel 12, all their lab work goes to the SBI crime lab in Raleigh and they have no funding to use a private company.

Plus, using a private company for testing comes with a price.

“Thousands of dollars to do thorough tests,” Foster said.

The state could, however, save money on local DNA experts who could provide court testimony without travel costs.

City council could vote on funding the project as soon as October. This would be the first-ever DNA forensic lab in Eastern Carolina.