U.S. Drops Conviction Over Hair Evidence, Critics Seek National Review


Federal prosecutors acknowledged errors in the scientific evidence that helped send Santae Tribble of Washington, D.C., man to prison for 28 years for murder and took the extraordinary step of agreeing to have his conviction overturned, reports the Washington Post. U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen stopped short of declaring him innocent. Tribble, 51, was found guilty of the 1978 murder of a taxi driver. His case was featured last week by the Post, which said that Justice Department officials have known for years that flawed forensic work might have led to convictions of innocent people.

In Tribble’s case, prosecutors and the FBI lab were incorrect in linking a hair found near the murder scene to Tribble. Three former senior FBI lab experts and a national civil liberties group joined calls for the Justice Department to review testimony in all convictions nationwide that depended on FBI hair evidence before 1996. U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) urged the Justice Department to review its handling of 250 questionable convictions identified by the Post, most of which relied on hair comparisons. “Obviously, if there are problems in D.C., there are problems across the country,” said Virginia Sloan, president of The Constituion Project. “To think this kind of testimony or potentially flawed evidence is limited to a particular location makes no sense.”

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