Killing innocent men?

More Police Lab Corruption
[Via Dispatches from the Culture Wars]

Balko has a disturbing article about a crime lab in North Carolina where corruption may have sent innocent men to their death.

Greg Taylor served 16 years in prison after he was falsely convicted of murdering a prostitute in Raleigh, North Carolina. He was released in February by a special three-judge panel after it was discovered the blood police claimed to have found in his SUV wasn’t blood at all. In the wake of that debacle, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper ordered two retired FBI agents to conduct an investigation on the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) crime lab. The report came out last week, and it is damning.

The report found that SBI agents withheld exculpatory evidence or distorted evidence in more than 230 cases over a 16-year period. Three of those cases resulted in execution. There was widespread lying, corruption, and pressure from prosecutors and other law enforcement officials on crime lab analysts to produce results that would help secure convictions. And the pressure worked.


I hope the estates of those guys who were executed have some outlet to find justice. The prosecutors were writing reviews of the lab analysts. The labs duty was apparently to get the DAs whatever they needed to convict. About 15 cases a year. This should send a chill down anyone’s spine:

In another case, an attorney for a woman accused of killing her mother was shocked to learn that the lab’s DNA tests on blood found at the crime scene matched his client. He called the lab and asked them to retest. They refused. He was finally able to obtain a court order for a new test. It was negative. It turned out that a lab technician had swapped the sample provided by his client with blood taken from the crime scene.

Horribly bad science done to convict people.

Perhaps the estates can sue the prosecutors involved or the state. But immunity for corruption should not be be allowed to occur without real consequence.