The head of Ohio’s state crime lab is promising a “top to bottom” review of the way its technicians process DNA samples, reports WBNS10-TV in Columbus. Thomas Stickrath, new superintendent of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification & Investigation, which operates the lab, says evidence in some recent cases might have been mishandled. “I think folks could have been more careful,” Stickrath told WBNS-TV (Channel 10). Yesterday, the TV station reported on its investigation that turned up dozens of cases in which DNA evidence was contaminated while in the lab’s possession – sometimes, it appears, with DNA from technicians who handled the samples.
Lab officials acknowledge some contamination but downplay its significance. In the past four years, the lab identified 46 instances in which a batch of DNA was contaminated, said Liz Benzinger, DNA quality-assurance administrator for the bureau. The affected DNA had a potential bearing on 106 cases. During that time, the lab tested 28,618 samples, so contamination occurred in about 1 percent of the cases. “Even if it happens only once a year, that’s something that really needs to be remedied,” said Dan Krane, a biological-sciences professor at Wright State University and founder of Forensic Bioinformatics, which reviews DNA test results from hundreds of court cases around the world each year.