Ernest Sonnier walked out of a Houston courtroom last week a free man for the first time in 23 years, and his case is the latest to be overturned after faulty testing at the Houston Police Department Crime Lab contributed to a wrongful conviction.
An editorial today in the Houston Chronicle points out that two years after the conclusion of a $5 million investigation into problems at the lab, countless cases still need to be evaluated for possible retesting. In addition, the paper writes today that the case is a sign of the need for independent crime labs.
Innocence Project Co-Director Barry Scheck said, “There are still thousands of cases from the Houston Crime Lab that need to be reviewed, and that needs to happen quickly.”
He praised the administration of DA Lykos for ending prosecutorial foot dragging, creating a unit to examine convicts' credible claims of innocence, and being “focused on getting to the truth.”
In addition to swiftly reviewing those remaining cases, local officials need to move forward with a plan to create a regional crime lab independent of police and prosecutor influence
Read the full editorial here
. (Houston Chronicle, 08/11/09)
Chronicle columnist Rick Casey
addressed another cause of wrongful conviction in a two-part series on eyewitness identification and the Timothy Cole case.
Chronicle cartoonist Nick Anderson contributed a cartoon about faulty lineups