Reaction to the SBI crime lab review
Posted August 18, 2010
Updated August 19, 2010
A review of the blood analysis unit at the State Bureau of Investigation’s crime lab found analysts omitted, overstated or falsely reported blood evidence in 230 cases – 190 of which went to trial.
Of those, 80 of the defendants are still serving time. Four are on death row, three were executed, though they confessed to their crimes, and five died in prison.
On the findings of the review:
Roy Cooper, North Carolina attorney general:
"While the report did not make a determination on whether the outcome of any of these prosecutions would have been affected, I firmly believe in the interest of justice that the full case files in each of these cases should be reviewed by both prosecutors and appropriate defense counsel to determine if any of these cases should be reopened.
"This report is troubling. It describes a practice that should have been unacceptable then and it is unacceptable now. There is clearly work to do. The lab cannot accept a lack of thoroughness. It cannot accept attitudes that are not open to the possibility that a mistake has been made. It cannot ignore criticisms and suggestions from the outside.
"Today, analysts in the lab are vital in identifying criminal suspects and exonerating innocent people. Their work, along with the SBI agents across this state is crucial in protecting North Carolina, and they are working hard. There are smart, honest hardworking scientists in the fields who analyze evidence and provide the information needed to keep us safe and serve the interest of justice.
"Today. most analysts have advanced science degrees and their lab reports and bench notes are available online."
Bev Perdue, governor:
"We learned today that there are real problems with the SBI crime lab procedures. The work there must be based on the integrity of science, and it must be above reproach."
I. Beverly Lake, former chief justice and founder of the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission
"I'm absolutely shocked and astounded at the depth of the problem. .. That's horrendous. That's a terrible indictment on the state of North Carolina."
Colon Willoughby, Wake County district attorney:
"If it appears an innocent person was convicted, we need to be concerned and rectify that. We need to look at the process and make sure we make systemic changes so it does not happen again."
Rep. Rosa Gill, D-Wake:
"It was shocking. ... I think there's going to be some changes."
Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake:
"This is simply inexcusable. ... It's probably going to cost the state taxpayers millions of dollars. ... We have to consider whether or not the SBI should remain under the attorney general's office or whether it should be an independent agency."