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Crime News: In the Real World, You Cannot Trust the Lab Results of CSI

You know you’ve watched more CSI episodes than you should.

There’s CSI in Vegas, and CSI in Miami, and CSI in New York. And they’re all intertwined with the police department (think Horatio drawing his gun in almost every episode) – and on the screen, it’s all good. The bad guys get caught. Gil and Sara live happily ever after in the jungle. You finally think of Gary Sinise as someone other than Lt. Dan.

In Real Life, It’s Not Like the TV Shows

But in real life, it’s very dangerous to have the crime lab intertwined with the police department. In fact, it’s causing real harm and innocent people are being hurt while the guilty go free.

Example of Errors at the Houston Crime Lab: Gary Richard’s Case

Just last Friday, both prosecutors and defense counsel agreed that new lab tests confirmed that a Houston Police Department crime lab analyst intentionally lied at the trial of Gary Richard and did not report on evidence that was beneficial to the defense.

Gary Alvin Richard, now in his mid-50s, is serving a life sentence for the 1987 attack and rape of a Harris County nursing student – but his claims of innocence may now be respected, since this new evidence of a biased crime lab has come to light. Richard was convicted almost 100% on the blood-typing evidence from the Houston Police Department crime lab.

Richard will be out on bond

This week, there will be an agreed motion presented to the judge in Richard’s case, asking that he be released on bond while everyone tries to get to the truth in this case.

Richard’s Case is not a Fluke

Even lab techs are human, you may think. There will be human error in a crime lab. And, that’s true. The potential for human error must always be considered anytime humans are involved.

But there’s more than an innocent mistake here. The Richard case was an intentional misleading of the jury. That’s not disputed.

And, this isn’t the only example of the Houston crime lab results being scewed to support the prosecution’s case. The Houston Crime Lab is notoriously biased.

Reputation of the Houston Crime Lab is That the Lab is Biased

Assuming that Gary Richard is cleared, he will be the 4th Houston defendant in the past two years cleared of charges after being convicted because of the Houston crime lab’s erroneous blood typing evidence.

Back in the Fall of 2007, DNA evidence cleared Ron Taylor of a rape charge (the Houston lab’s tests of bodily fluids in that case were shown to be wrong). Taylor’s case first revealed the crack in the Houston Crime Lab’s system, and as of today’s date, 160 cases (in addition to Richard’s) are being reviewed by an independent investigator.

Sources:

Houston Chronicle
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/tx/6392132.html

USA Today
http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2009/04/real-life-csi-rife-with-conflicts-of-interest.html

Houston Observer
http://blogs.houstonpress.com/hairballs/2009/04/dna_crime_lab_raby.php


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