Sorenson Forensics expands operations and brings world-class DNA analysts to DraperMay 29, 2022 01:15PM ● By Peri Kinder
By Peri Kinder | [email protected]
Bone testing for missing person cases, giving expert testimony, generating DNA profiles—it’s just another day at Sorenson Forensics in Draper. The business just announced a $3.4-million investment that will expand its forensics operations to make room for trailblazing instrumentations.
“Sorenson Forensics has been rooted in Utah for over 16 years,” said Kent Harman, CEO of Sorenson Forensics. “We stand tall with a unified vision, renewed in our passion for excellence and an unparalleled dedication to the highest level of quality.”
In 2021, the business moved from South Salt Lake and opened a new laboratory in Draper at 11978 S. 700 East, providing efficiency tailored to the work being done. The investment included a bone pulverizer which is used to streamline DNA extraction from decades-old cold cases.
Although it's a private lab, Sorenson Forensics analysts often work with the Utah Attorney General’s Office, the FBI, and other law enforcement agencies from around the country. They provide DNA results that can exonerate or condemn a suspect. In a pro bono case, analysts helped free a man wrongly convicted of sexual assault.
“We’ve had a couple of exciting exonerations from people who were serving 40 years to life,” Harman said. “We went back over old evidence, re-analyzed the DNA and exonerated the sexual assault suspect. Not only that, but we uploaded the info to [the Combined DNA Index System] and got a match to the perpetrator.”
Experts at Sorenson Forensics analyze any type of DNA with precision. They swab bullet casings to identify drive-by shooters. A spot of blood on the wristwatch of a suspect was swabbed and matched to the missing person that law enforcement was searching for. Results were sent to the local agency which got a confession from the suspect.
“This testing eliminates suspects and allows them to move on to another person of interest. Not so much time wasted with the wrong person,” Harman said.
To attract talented analysts from across the country, Harman said the new lab had to be ultramodern. The location in Draper is a bonus as recruits see the recreation and lifestyle available in the area.
Harman is a Draper resident and retired military. His wife, Jami, is an FBI-trained DNA analyst. Together they started a forensics lab in Missouri in 1998 which, at the time, opened with the most sophisticated equipment. Their company merged with Sorenson Forensics in 2018, and Harman took over as CEO.
“We’re a neutral lab. We’re just about the science. We’re only going to state the facts, not shade the results,” he said.
Audited by the FBI annually, Sorenson Forensics currently has 25 FBI-qualified analysts and hopes to add three more this summer. Each analyst can independently run cases, take samples, finalize reports and provide expert testimony. For more information, visit SorensonForensics.com.
The facility has successfully completed more than 100,000 backlog cases, ranging from property crimes, homicides, sexual assaults and other violent offenses. With instruments and testing equipment improving all the time, Harman expects big changes in the industry.
“Technology right now is on some very fixed equipment,” he said. “Most DNA testing is performed in a brick-and-mortar lab. Over the next 10 years, I see things getting moved down to local agencies. There will be crime scene vans with rapid CNA equipment on board to get faster results.”