2006: Police lab tailored tests to theories, report says
Sat Jul 17, 2010 17:46
Police lab tailored tests to theories, report says Investigators hope to establish whether mistakes were deliberate By ROMA KHANNA and STEVE MCVICKER Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle May 12, 2006, 12:38PM
Houston crime lab analysts skewed reports to fit police theories in several cases, ignoring results that conflicted with police expectations because of a lack of confidence in their own skills or a conscious effort to secure convictions, an independent investigator says in his latest report on the scandal.
In more than 20 cases reviewed in this stage of the ongoing probe, the investigative team concluded that analysts at the Houston Police Department crime lab failed to report the results of blood-typing and DNA tests that did not implicate the suspects police had identified.
"We have found a clear and troubling pattern of reluctance in the serology and DNA sections to report typing results that were not consistent with the blood types or DNA profiles of either the victim or a known suspect; in many such cases the results were reported as inconclusive," investigator Michael Bromwich wrote.
Bromwich said his team could not determine whether the failure to report stemmed from "analysts' lack of confidence in their ability to obtain reliable results or to a more sinister manipulation of analytical results."
Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal said Thursday he saw no indication that analysts were tailoring their findings to fit investigative theories.
Bromwich's team said they also found that crime lab analysts failed to perform tests and comparisons on evidence collected from crime scenes in hundreds of other cases from the 1980s. They describe the percentage of cases in which complete tests were run 2 percent in 1980 and less than 30 percent in 1987 as "extremely disturbing" and "alarmingly small."
Such tests, they note, could have bolstered cases against the guilty while preventing prosecution of the innocent.
Fifth report issued The report, released late Wednesday, is the fifth from Bromwich's team. The HPD crime lab has been under scrutiny for more than three years.
To date, investigators have identified 93 cases involving DNA or serology analysis with "major issues" that raise doubts about the reliability of work and the accuracy of analysts' conclusions.
Efforts to determine what went wrong in those cases were hampered by a lack of cooperation from former lab chief Donald Krueger; James Bolding, who led the DNA and serology divisions; and analyst Christy Kim, the report says. Bolding and Kim analyzed evidence in many of the cases in which investigators found problems.
"Our inability to gather information from them in connection with our case reviews has hampered our ability to determine whether any of the most troubling cases we have found were the product of intentional scientific fraud," Bromwich wrote.
HPD chose Bromwich, a former U.S. Justice Department official, to investigate the crime lab in 2005, three years after the DNA division was closed because of problems with practices and personnel. Since 2002, errors also have been exposed in the lab divisions that test firearms, body fluids and controlled substances.
Two men have been released from prison, with one receiving a pardon on the basis of his innocence, after the discovery of problems with the lab's handling of evidence in their cases.
Bromwich's team has studied historical problems within the lab which was underfunded and, in some divisions, staffed by poorly trained scientists with few resources or guidelines and has reviewed tests from some of the thousands of cases analyzed in the lab during the past 25 years.
The latest report offers insight into how the lab's practical deficiencies such as poor training and inadequate standards affected reports and testimony in individual cases.
At the gruesome scene of the 1988 slayings of two Houston Grand Opera tenors, James Bolding swabbed dozens of samples from a blood-spattered bathroom and bedroom, the report states. He found blood that matched the victims and the suspect, and a sample that could not have come from any of the three. Bolding, a serologist who went on to head the lab's DNA division, did not report the incompatible finding, Brom- wich's team found.
More than six years later, however, after a fingerprint database pointed police to a new suspect one who was consistent with the sample Bolding never reported he added that conclusion to his report on the evidence, the team reported.
"This case is a troubling example of the head of the crime lab's serology section seemingly tailoring his reported results to fit with investigators' pre-existing expectations," the report states.
Bolding did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Rosenthal saw no problems In his 23 years as an assistant district attorney, Rosenthal said Thursday, he saw nothing that would indicate what Bromwich's report is claiming.
"The laboratory certainly wasn't coming up with the same conclusions that detectives were on cases that I was concerned with," Rosenthal said.
He added, however, that if there is evidence of selective reporting, he needs to talk with Bromwich's investigators and possibly conduct a criminal investigation.
With the publication of this report, the investigative team had completed the majority of the 2,430 case reviews planned. The team will assess several hundred serology and ballistics cases, review the lab's current operations and make recommendations.
Police Chief Harold Hurtt said he views the process as a necessary step to regaining public confidence in the crime lab. "The number one goal in this whole investigative process is to make sure that no innocent people were themselves victimized," he said in a statement released Thursday.
STRANGE JUSTICE (from stju.blogspot.com) Thursday, December 22, 2005 GREAT MOMENTS IN FORENSIC SCIENCE Moments before taking the stand to testify in a 1989 capital murder trial, Houston crime-lab... more
In other words, the test results are accurate but a couple of defense whores are whining about where he performed them. Do they claim that in doing so, it produced an inaccurate result? No. They... more
Wednesday, November 28, 2012 Anatomy of a Murder: Prelude Assume for the moment a hypothetical. A State executes a person convicted of a double murder. That person had been found guilty beyond a... more
Dead Man Walking Tales from death row: Justice for Rodney Reed share By: Caitlin Adams I visited Rodney yesterday with his mom, Sandra. We arrived in the visiting area at 11:30. At 11:45, the visit... more
"The United States' concept of justifiable homicide/Executions in criminal law stands on the dividing line between an excuse, justification and an exculpation. In other words, it takes a case that... more
Tuesday, August 7, 2012 The Case of Preston Hughes III: The Searchers Part 5 and Last This post will be quick, at least by my standards. I want to end this mini series within a series and I want to... more
http://www.skepticaljuror.com/search/label/Preston%20Hughes%20III Tuesday, June 12, 2012 The Case of Preston Hughes III: Marcell's Neck Color me surprised. Again. I should have realized this earlier, ... more
Wednesday, July 4, 2012 Independence Day 2012 June 25, 2012 Mr. Preston Hughes III Polunsky Unit #000939 3872 FM 350 South Livingston, Texas 77351 [My Address Redacted] Dear Mr. Allen Hello. I hope... more
State on Track To Execute Its 15th in 2012 By Jordan Smith, November 16, 2012, News At press time, the state was readying to carry out the Nov. 15 execution of Preston Hughes III, set to become the... more
Most Popular Comments -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- laynedish 9:21 PM on November 15, 2012 DNA testing was rejected. Document of police gaining... more
Preston Hughes Executed for 1988 Murder by Maurice Chammah November 15, 2012 Enlargephoto by: Spencer Selvidge Preston Hughes interview two months before Hughes' first scheduled execution date, TDCJ... more
Friends and Activists: Fiction could not be stranger and more horrifying than this story. Please read and sign petition. Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement Save Preston Hughes III from Texas... more
PLEASE TAKE ACTION NOW!! AND THE ABOLITION MOVEMENT ALSO THANKS WARD LARKIN FOR ALL HIS WORK! If you can go to Huntsville tomorrow, please do and join the Abolition Movement in protesting the legal... more
Killer's lawyer says police lied about teen's dying accusation By Allan Turner | November 12, 2012 Late on Sept. 26, 1988, La Shandra Charles, bleeding profusely from neck wounds in a west Houston... more
Preston is NOT A KILLER as stated in this report. The evidence proves that its getting someone who can stop this farce to listen that's the problem there all to busy wrapped up in them selves to give ... more
Hi All. I had been following the story of Mario Swain right until his last moments where he refused the 'last meal' and 'last words' due to the fear of what was about to be done onto him by the... more
Hi, David Dow who is the head of the innocence project was working on the Mario Swain case it was sad.He is now working full time on Preston's case hes just emailed me i will keep you informed on... more
WORKING DRAFT PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS: PRESTON HUGHES III: 15 OCT 2012 Page 2 TABLE OF CONTENTS TABLE OF LEGAL REFERENCES AND AUTHORITIES PROCEDURAL HISTORY STATEMENT OF FACTS PART 1--... more
http://data.scotxblog.com/scotx/no/12-0829 IN RE PRESTON HUGHES, III A mandamus petition was filed on October 15, 2012. The IN RE PRESTON HUGHES, III A mandamus petition was filed on October 15,... more
Step aside Patrick McCann at firstname.lastname@example.org, you doesn't help our friend or are you dedicated to save a life? . http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYGdo0EMvEY&feature=youtu.be Give him time... more
IOW, it is not relevant to the Hughes case. On top of that, they are talking about failure to report cases that did not implicate the suspect. In Hughes, the test was performed right in front of the... more