Houston Crime Lab Deception Leads to Another Questionable Conviction
To their credit, prosecutors agree with Gary Alvin Richard's defense attorney that an analyst from the Houston Police Department's troubled crime lab "misled jurors at Richard’s trial and failed to report evidence that may have helped him." Based on new blood tests, both sides will ask a judge next week to release Richard on bond while prosecutors decide whether his sexual assault charge -- for which Richard has been imprisoned for 22 years -- should be dismissed.
Richard’s case abounds with issues common to wrongful convictions. Among them: The victim identified him some seven months after the attack. HPD crime lab analysts came to conflicting conclusions about the evidence, but reported only the results favorable to the case. Physical evidence collected in what is known as a “rape kit” has been destroyed, a victim of poor evidence preservation practices, leaving nothing for DNA testing now.
his her credit, District Attorney Pat Lykos continues to lobby for the creation of a crime lab that would operate independently, not under the auspices of a police department. That request is a no-brainer. Scientists should base their conclusions on science, not on whether the science helps or hurts the charges that police and prosecutors would like to bring. It's time for the Texas legislature to listen to Lykos.
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