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Weapon identification will go more slowly now

Recent cutbacks to the Oregon State Crime Lab could be a major setback to solving forensic cases such as the shooting death of Joshua Jeffries.

Dan Alessio, a former firearms examiner at the Oregon State Crime Lab who recovered the bullet at the scene, says that his position, along with two-thirds of the statewide crime lab staff, has been terminated due to state budget cuts after the failure of Measure 28.

The gun used in the crime was not recovered. Alessio said that by running the 'rifling characteristics' through an FBI database, he found that the bullet came from a specific type of gun that was cheaply made and very affordable, basically a 'Saturday night special' made by a company in California.

He narrowed the gun down to a make and model that he used to see come through the crime lab about once or twice a month.

Alessio, who has a daughter close to Joshua's age, said the case touched him personally and he had made it his mission Ñ posting a note about the case on his desk Ñ to see that the gun used in the boy's death was recovered.

'Every day when I used to come into work I'd look at that note on my desk and say, 'Maybe today's that day we'll get the gun in and we'll make that match and hopefully it'll lead to a suspect.' My fear is (now) it's going to slip through the cracks.'

The state crime lab's firearms examiners worked about 900 firearms cases statewide last year, 800 of which were handled by the three firearms examiners in Portland. Now there is one firearms examiner in the state left in Springfield Ñ eligible to retire.

'We're just kind of limping along with no firearms services here in Portland,' said Randy Wampler, forensic supervisor of the crime lab in Portland. 'We have no way to provide quick service.'

Ñ Jennifer Anderson