1994 Triple Murder Case Puts Ohio State Forensic Analyst Back under the Microscope
10.31.16 By Innocence Blog
According to the Columbus Dispatch, a career forensic scientist who worked for the state crime lab may have compromised the integrity of potentially hundreds of convictions in Ohio, “slanting evidence to help cops and prosecutors build their cases.”
In an article published on Sunday, the Dispatch wrote that it has reviewed more than 800 pages of personnel records of G. Michelle Yezzo, who worked as a forensic scientist for the Ohio attorney general’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), and whose credibility in the lab and at trial often came into question over the course of her 30-year career. The documents illustrate “a disturbing pattern of behavior” which included erratic and abusive actions toward her colleagues, lack of documentation of how she obtained lab results, an inability to properly explain her findings to jurors and bias toward law enforcement.
The Dispatch reports that “two former attorney generals, defense attorneys, a judge, a former BCI superintendent and a nationally renowned forensic expert from the FBI all say that Yezzo has credibility issues that may have poisoned cases she touched.”
One such case is back in court. Kevin Keith was convicted of a 1994 triple murder based largely on the expert testimony that Yezzo gave at his trial. But on Friday, Keith—represented by the Assistant Ohio Public Defender Rachel Troutman—asked the court for a new trial, claiming that Yezzo’s testimony has come into question. According to the Dispatch, in 2010, a “retired FBI forensic expert said that Yezzo’s conclusions were baseless and her methods were shoddy in Keith’s case.” That and other evidence, which points to another man, led Ohio’s then-governor to commute Keith’s sentence to life without parole.
Career forensic expert, William Bodziak, said that Yezzo’s work on the Keith case “was below standards for even scientists in training,” reported the Dispatch. But Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said that after two separate reviews of her work, he found “no issues with her work,” according to the Dispatch.
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