Column: Evidence preservation lacking in Houston
DNA testing has uncovered 13 wrongful convictions in Dallas and four in Houston. In today’s Houston Chronicle, columnist Lisa Falkenberg asks why this discrepancy exists, considering that Houston has “its fair share of bad lawyers, overzealous cops and mistaken eyewitnesses.”
The main answer is simple: Dallas is a pack rat, keeping evidence dating back to the 1980s in catalogued freezers of a county-run lab; Harris County is not.
As we saw in the (Houston Police Department) crime lab debacle, precious evidence like bloody clothing and rape kits got rained on, used up in one test or misplaced. Even the evidence sent to other labs was routinely stored in crowded, dusty warehouses, where exhibits were periodically tossed to make room for more.
In 1997, the rape kit that exonerated Kevin Byrd narrowly escaped the trash bin. But a week after his pardon, court officials ordered 50 more rape kits destroyed.
Read the full story here
. (Houston Chronicle, 4/17/07)
Evidence preservation helps police, prosecution and defendants obtain the truth in criminal cases at trial and on appeal.
Read more about critical evidence preservation reforms nationwide
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