Potentially hundreds of people convicted of drug crimes in 36 Southeast Texas counties may have their convictions overturned after the discovery that a scientist who’d worked on nearly 5,000 cases had falsified results, reports the Grits for Breakfast blog. At a meeting of the Texas Forensic Science Commission on Friday, a number of new details emerged about the episode and its aftermath.
Analyst Jonathon Salvador was terminated when it was discovered he reported the contents of a batch of pills without testing them, substituting data from another sample. Retesting his prior three months of casework found four other cases requiring corrective actions, including one where he’d incorrectly identified a substance as marijuana. He performed well in court and his testimony was convincing to jurors. He just wasn’t a very good analyst and at some point began to take shortcuts, the commission was told. Salvador was sacked after another employee discovered he’d issued a “fraudulent” report that “misrepresented” what tests he’d performed on a batch of Alprazolam pills.