Virginia editorial: Crime lab review should be transparent


After DNA testing on biological evidence discovered in the files of a long-retired Virginia forensic analyst led to the exoneration of five innocent people between 2002 and 2005, former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner ordered a systematic review of possible DNA cases in the state lab. Officials say that review is moving forward, but the procedures have not been made public.

An editorial in today’s Virginian-Pilot calls for more transparency from the lab and prosecutors regarding their methods of reviewing cases for possible exculpatory evidence.

Lab leaders have sought assistance from local prosecutors in gathering information about the original crimes in each case. But an obvious bias exists if prosecutors are helping to decide whether a criminal case should be re-opened….Those convicted of the crimes have a right to know if new questions are being raised about their guilt, or alternatively if their guilt has been confirmed by new evidence.


Read the full editorial here

. (Virginian-Pilot, 10/25/07)

Lab officials announced last week that the first batch of 66 cases had been analyzed, and that two convicted defendants would be notified that their DNA was not found in the evidence from their case.

Read the full story here

. (Richmond Times-Dispatch, 10/22/07)

While searching for evidence in the case of

Marvin Anderson

, Virginia lab officials discovered that retired analyst Mary Jane Burton had been saving samples of biological evidence in her files. Anderson was exonerated by tests on the evidence in 2002, and the other four men exonerated by these samples were

Julius Earl Ruffin


Arthur Lee Whitfield


Phillip Leon Thurman


Willie Davidson



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