A private lab retesting DNA evidence processed by the Houston Police Department could not replicate the police lab’s findings in evidence from three cases, including a capital murder, the Houston Chronicle says. Prosecutors and defense attorneys agree the DNA evidence was not crucial, but the discrepancies between the private lab, Identigene, and police analysts demonstrate the problems that prompted the closure of the Police Department DNA lab last year.
The latest tests brings to 45 the number of Houston Police Department cases that have been reanalyzed. Prosecutors ordered such tests on 370 cases originally processed by the police lab, which was closed after an audit exposed widespread problems.
In one example, a man was sentenced to death for the murders of two store clerks during a robbery. A Houston police analyst testified that a blue ski mask contained a mixture of DNA from the man and a co-defendant. Byt the new tests failed to identify any DNA on the remaining portions of the ski mask. “There was a lot of other evidence that linked him to the crime, including ballistics tests on a gun he had when he was arrested,” said Marie Munier, the assistant district attorney leading a review of the police DNA lab. “But, at this point, HPD’s DNA work does not check out.”