A disturbing revelation from auditors looking into Houston crime labs – crime scene errors that could throw a wrench in dozens of criminal prosecutions. A crime scene investigator apparently made errors in 88 different cases. In 65 of those cases, there was incomplete documentation. In 32, there were administrative errors and in eight, evidence was misplaced. While it is not known which specific cases are involved in these crime scene errors, it is known that 26 of the cases involve homicides and five of them are related to officer-involved shootings. The Houston Forensic Science Center noted that the mistakes were not made out of any maliciousness, but rather lack of training and attention to detail – two things that crime scene investigators should absolutely have.
Many of the cases involved have not yet gone through the courts, and defense attorneys are investigating further to identify all errors.
Problems in Texas Crime Labs
Ineptness on the part of crime labs in Texas is nothing new. Houston Police Department’s crime lab has had issues for years. Crime labs in Austin shut down recently due to widespread issues with DNA handling. Even crime labs in Dallas have had issues, with thousands of DWI cases potentially affected by mishandling of blood.
When crime labs mishandle evidence like this, it undermines the integrity of the criminal justice system. Imagine being charged and convicted for a crime based on DNA results that were incorrect. You would suffer lifelong penalties for something you never did. Who knows how many people are facing wrongful conviction based on faulty evidence?