A top Houston homicide detective died yesterday after a shooting at the agency’s homicide division. The Houston Chronicle suggested that the case may have been a suicide but no official statement was issued.
Smith, 61, apparently was working alone on the sixth floor of police headquarters when he was shot. He hd pursued leads in the the 1982 sexual assault and strangulation of 20-year-old Mary Ann Castille. The case remained cold until 1999, when DNA testing turned up a suspect. Michael Brashar was charged with murder in the case after Smith’s investigation was featured on the television program America’s Most Wanted. Smith appears in a segment scheduled to air Saturday on the capture.
Also yesterday, Houston’s poice department closed a second division of its troubled crime lab less than a year after DNA testing was suspended amid questions about the accuracy of its work to prosecute criminal cases.
The Houston Chronicle says Acting Police Chief Joe Breshears shut down the toxicology section, which tests blood and urine for drugs and alcohol, after the division supervisor failed a competency test administered as the department attempts to earn national accreditation for its lab. Pauline Louie, a 28-year veteran, was one of the crime lab’s highest-ranking analysts. Louie was the only analyst performing toxicology tests and she managed the staff of the narcotics division. She also calibrated machines to test the breath of suspected drunken drivers, District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal said.
He said prosecutors will review cases that include her toxicology work. “We have an obligation to go back and take a look at any criminal case she has worked on,” Rosenthal said. “There is a possibility of reporting a drug that was in fact not there, which could contribute to a plea or improper evidence being introduced at trial. We have to go back and relook at her cases.”