Former Baltimore police sergeant James Kulbicki was convicted of killing his mistress after prosecutors linked the weapon to him through forensic science. Maryland’s top firearms expert said the bullets were consistent in size with the one that killed the victim. An FBI expert said a science that matches bullets by their lead content linked the fatal bullet to Kulbicki, reports the Washington Post in the second in a series with CBS News’s “60 Minutes.” Then the FBI crime lab discarded the bullet-matching science that it had used to link Kulbicki to the crime. A judge is weighing whether to overturn Kulbicki’s conviction in a case that could have ripple effects across Maryland. The case symbolizes growing national concerns about how far forensic experts are willing to go to help prosecutors secure a conviction.
“If this could happen to my client, who was a cop who worked within this justice system, what does it say about defendants who know far less about the process and may have far fewer resources to uncover evidence of their innocence that may have been withheld by the prosecution or their scientific experts?” said Suzanne Drouet, a former Justice Department lawyer who took on the case as a public defender. Prosecutors are fighting to uphold Kulbicki’s conviction, arguing that there is still plenty of evidence that proves his guilt. Clifford Spiegelman, a statistician at Texas A & M University who served on a 2004 National Academy of Sciences panel that sharply criticized the FBI’s bullet-lead technique, said the case mirrors others in which juries relied on prosecution scientists whose testimony is now considered overstated: “What we’re seeing is too many instances in which FBI or other prosecution scientists are simply doing what it takes to ‘get their man.’ ”