Backlog on lab reports delays Duplin murder trial

Backlog on lab reports delays Duplin murder trial

BEULAVILLE, DUPLIN COUNTY - District Attorney Ernie Lee is relying on several lab reports to continue most of his pending murder cases.

"Fingerprints, DNA, that type of evidence -- the average wait is 24 to 27 months," Lee said.

Lee is frustrated with the wait for crime lab reports from the State Bureau of Investigation in Raleigh. Out of the 24 pending murder cases he has in his district, he's waiting for lab reports for 22 cases. He says the lab is short staffed, causing a process that should take several months turn into several years.

"A lot [of former employees] have moved on to higher paying jobs," Lee said. "As a result of that, it's really putting a crunch on getting those lab reports back."

An example is a murder case in Duplin County. Beulaville police say Max Turner shot and killed Jamie Fountain in February in front of Beulaville Florist off West Bostic Street. Lori Grady was a close friend to the victim.

"Everyone is ready for some type of closure," Grady said. "I am myself, but it's bad on the family, the friends, who have to keep wondering and worrying."

It could be 2015 before Turner stands trial.

"We all hope justice is served, but we just have to wait and see," Grady said. "One day, justice will be served."

As the wait continues, Grady remembers her friend.

"We miss him every day," Grady said. "All the time -- I mean, he was such a big part of all of our lives, so that'll never change."

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