Wayne County Commission votes down settlement that would have given Prosecutor's Office more money
11:55 AM, May 15, 2013
10:05 PM, May 15, 2013
DETROIT (WXYZ) - The case backlogs and layoffs at the state's busiest prosecutor's office will continue now that the Wayne County Commission has rejected a deal that would have put millions more into Kym Worthy's budget.
He's a convicted serial killer and rapist connected to seven murders. Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy now says a rape kit with DNA from Shelly Andre Brooks was left in a crime lab for 14 years and she says testing it sooner may have saved lives.
"These seven women would be alive but for those kits not being examined in a timely manner. That's what I'm afraid is going to happen with these warrants stacked on the shelf," Worthy told the commissioners Monday.
Prosecutor Worthy says she's down 52 attorneys – and that all the layoffs forced by budget woes means they have a backlog for hundreds of warrant requests.
She says her assistant prosecutors just don't have the time or resources to stay on top of the warrants for homicides, rape, and child abuse.
"Child abuse defendants are serial people, and we're afraid they're going to commit another crime before we can get to the crime that we just charged them for," said Worthy.
Worthy sued the county over her $25 Million budget – saying it's not nearly enough to run a prosecutor's office that has the highest caseload in the state. In an effort to settle the lawsuit out of court, Worthy and Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano agreed to boost the prosecutor's budget to $31 Million.
But with a vote of 12-3 Monday, the Wayne County Commission refused to approve the additional money.
"We wish we could have it fall from the sky and give it to you – but as I see it from where we are right now, in our fiscal crisis it's not there to give," said Commissioner Alisha Bell (D-Detroit).
"There is no money to be found. The commission knows that the county is running very high deficits and we are saying, no we are not going to approve any more deficit spending," said Commissioner Laura Cox (R-Livonia).
"It is so very, very wrong," said Commissioner Ilona Varga (D-Lincoln Park).
Commissioner Varga was one of just three commissioners who voted to give Worthy the additional budget money… Varga believes one way or another, the county will pay the price for not funding the prosecutor's office.
"Aren't the tax payers paying for the court fight anyway," asked 7 Action News Investigator Heather Catallo.
"The court fight is $400,000 already, and I really wanted to stop the bleeding… By all conscience, I could not vote to not give her the money to be able to prosecute these people," said Varga.
Now that the commission has rejected the settlement, the prosecutor will have to take her case back to court. No new court date has been set.