SANTA ANA ( — A state-of-the-art Orange County criminal investigations lab opened its doors Wednesday in celebration of National Forensic Science Week.

KNX 1070’s Ron Kilgore reports the Orange County Crime Lab (OCCL) has become renowned for its ability to utilize emerging technology to provide convicting evidence for cold cases.

Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens and District Attorney Tony Rackauckas were among officials on hand for a media tour of the OCCL, which has 135 staff members who process approximately 50,000 items of evidence each year.

The 100,000-square foot facility, which was established in 1948, is among the 25 largest crime labs in the nation and includes a firing range in the basement.

Standing in front of a brand new liquid chromatagraph mass spectrometer, Assistant Director Jennifer Harmon said the lab is also developing new standards for testing drugs from DUI cases.

“Xanax, Valium, Ambien…these are things which we commonly see actually in our….suspects,” Harmon said.

Officals said advances in DNA technology at the crime lab – which serves over 40 police agencies in Orange County – was instrumental in the release of Uriah Courtney, 33, in June, after eight years in prison for the kidnapping and rape of a teenage girl in Lemon Grove in San Diego County.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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