Houston crime lab analysts skewed reports to fit police theories in several cases, ignoring results that conflicted with police expectations because of a lack of confidence in their own skills or a deliberate effort to secure convictions, says an independent investigator’s study reported by the Houston Chronicle. In more than 20 cases reviewed in this stage of the ongoing probe, investigators concluded that lab analysts failed to report the results of blood-typing and DNA tests that did not implicate the suspects police had identified. Investigator Michael Bromwich could not determine whether the failure to report stemmed from “analysts’ lack of confidence in their ability to obtain reliable results or to a more sinister manipulation of analytical results.”
Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal said he saw no indication that analysts were tailoring their findings to fit investigative theories. Bromwich’s team found that crime lab analysts failed to perform tests and comparisons on evidence collected from crime scenes in hundreds of cases from the 1980s. They describe the percentage of cases in which complete tests were run – 2 percent in 1980 and under 30 percent in 1987 – as “extremely disturbing” and “alarmingly small.” Such tests could have bolstered cases against the guilty while preventing prosecution of the innocent.