Despite completion of a major audit this summer at the troubled Houston Police Department crime lab, along with the October release of Innocence Project client Ronnie Taylor and the ongoing review of past convictions based on questionable forensic tests, news reports yesterday allege that forensic misconduct continues at the lab.
"I see this slide back toward silence,” is what an analyst, who is on the job in the lab now, had to say. "Abuse of power, people being threatened, people afraid to stand up. Watching the morale dip to levels lower than ever before. Even before the last time."
And a leading national DNA expert said this week that the lab should be shuttered again while officials review procedures.
"The fact that there are so many of these problems raises real concerns about the reliability of the evidence coming out of the crime lab once again,” said Dr. Bill Thompson, a nationally renowned DNA expert.
His work was pivotal five years ago in exposing the evidence of errors at the crime lab.
He says the huge increase in problems — seven of the issues in a six-week period and four in seven days back in August — is trouble.
“You would want to shut down the lab and review the procedures,” Thompson said. “That is a pretty bad week.”
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. (KHOU, Houston, 11/14/2007)
Innocence Project client Ronnie Taylor was released last month after DNA tests proved that he didn’t commit the rape for which he had served 12 years in prison. His conviction was based partly on faulty tests conducted at the Houston Police Department Crime Lab.