SBI Identifies More Cases With Possible Problems
North Carolina's troubled state crime lab has identified 74 additional cases in need of extra review for possible wrong-doing by lab workers. That's on top of the 229 cases previously reviewed by an outside investigator last summer. The work of the SBI's blood analysis lab has been tainted since last summer when a Wake County man was cleared of a murder charge for which he served 17 years in prison. A former FBI agent was brought in to analyze all of the lab's blood analysis between 1987 and 2003. That report found lab analysts had failed to include key evidence in at least 229 cases. Now SBI officials say a hand-review of old files has uncovered several dozen more cases that merit additional review. Meanwhile, the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys has spent the last six months combing through the 147 cases in which a guilty verdict was found. Executive Director Peg Dorer says they wanted to make sure that poor lab work didn't end up putting innocent people in jail. "The DA's went back and dug out the old case files going back over 20 years to read them and reconstruct them and talk to detectives where they needed to see if the question of guilt had entered into this," says Dorer. "And they didn't find any." In each case, Dorer says District Attorneys found additional overwhelming evidence of guilt, including confessions, eyewitnesses, ballistics or DNA. The District Attorneys were unable to find original files for 17 of the cases with guilty verdicts. Dorer says they will now begin reviewing the 74 extra cases the SBI has identified. SBI Director Greg McLeod said in a statement his team is committed to continuing an internal review of casework as well.