State News

Prosecutors group wants full-scale audit of SBI lab

Posted August 27, 2010
Updated August 28, 2010

— The agency that supports district attorneys across North Carolina is calling on a full-scale audit of the state's top crime lab in light of an outside report last week that has called into question nearly 200 criminal convictions.

Seth Edwards, president of the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys, on Friday called on Attorney General Roy Cooper to commission an audit of the entire crime lab of the State Bureau of Investigation, saying, "restoring the public’s confidence not only in the SBI lab, but our entire system of justice, is our paramount concern."

Last week's report, which focused only on the crime lab's blood stain analysis program, flagged 190 cases that resulted in convictions from 1987 to 2003 in which SBI analysts omitted, overstated or falsely reported information about blood evidence.

Edwards, who is district attorney in Beaufort, Hyde, Martin, Tyrrell and Washington counties, said that every case involving the SBI could be scrutinized unless an audit is performed.

“In essence, the district attorneys are advocating for the law-abiding citizens of North Carolina, and in particular, the victims of crime, for it will be this group that suffers mightily if the reputation of the SBI is not rehabilitated quickly,” he said.

Since last week's report, the crime lab's director has been relieved of his duties, and any SBI analysts identified in the review have been removed from their current caseloads.

SBI Director Greg McLeod also named eight people Friday, including Edwards, to an advisory group to help in a national search to find a new crime lab director.

The panel of law enforcement officials, defense attorneys and prosecutors also includes Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby, Moore County District Attorney Maureen Kreuger, defense attorneys Joe Cheshire and Phil Baddour, Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Quentin Sumner, Cabarrus County Sheriff Brad Riley and Cary Police Chief Pat Bazemore.

“These are people who care deeply about the criminal justice system and who will bring their expertise and experience to this search,” McLeod said in a statement. "We can consult with the scientific community and review needs inside and out of the SBI lab to find the best candidate."

Some defense attorneys and justice groups have called for the crime lab to be independent from the SBI, arguing, in part, that the lab seeks to build cases to support law enforcement's theories rather than seeking the truth.

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  • julescid Aug 27, 2010

    Quoting the SBI Agent in the Greg Taylor case" It was no big deal(that the results were negative for blood on the vehicle was not given to his attorneys)." - I bet he wouldn't feel like it was "no big deal" if it was his bottom sitting in prison for something he did not do. These Agent/s need to charged criminally. I can not begin to imagine what this man went through.

  • UNCfuturealumi Aug 27, 2010

    It is proving more true every day that NC is rotten to the core. All the politicians are members of the 'good ole boy' club and given a job when they are not deserving. Why are we educating kids? All they need is to be of the elite group and a nice salary awaits them..I say close the schools, let the teachers go north and join the union and pay half they salary in dues. Because NC is not needing educated people, just a few that have a little money to get their foot in the door and from there it is smooth sailing.

  • MakoII Aug 27, 2010

    One thing people at any laboratory know is when you aren't being scientific or honest.

    This "lab" seems to be rife with people who aren't deserving of their profession.

    But all you'll see is an "investigation" to show a judge in case there are any lawsuits, perhaps a few notices in personnel files, and eventually...

    NOTHING will be done to fire the employees responsible. Setting the stage for future abuses.

    When what should be done are some jail terms for such heinous crimes!

  • TMatrix Aug 27, 2010

    Along with a new person in charge, it might be time to make the lab an independent entity, perhaps removing a bias for the prosecution and police. I would be hard pressed today believing anything that came from the lab presented by a DA.