Friday, February 02, 2007

Healey's Shameful Campaign & Forensic DNA

(Crossposted at Blue Mass Group)

The revelation in Thursday's Globe is pretty jaw dropping:
A federal inspection of the State Police crime laboratory completed in September found problems with the handling of DNA evidence that go beyond those that prompted the agency to suspend a civilian administrator and led to two sweeping reviews of the lab.
So we are belattedly learning that while Kerry Healey was savaging (or trying to) Deval Patrick last September and October for supporting Ben LaGuer's parole bids, the Romney/Healey administration sat on a report showing gross incompetence in the State's DNA lab.

Remember, the entire basis of Healey's attacks were that Patrick advocated the release of a man who it was later "proven" through DNA was indeed guilty. And let's be very clear. The connection between LaGuer's 2002 DNA test and the State crime lab is not at all trivial. By court order, LaGuer's expert did his testing blind. This meant that it was up to the crime lab to catalogue and vouch for the integrity of the evidence. Gwen Pino, the wife of embattled administrator Robert Pino, signed the affidavits for testing to go forward. We now know that had she so much as read the chain of custody documents she would have known LaGuer's personal items had been mixed in with the things she approved for testing. It was a deriliction of duty (I'll settle for gross incompetence) for her not to warn the blind tester of the danger of contamination.

On top of that, crime lab employee Kellie Bogosian flew out to California at LaGuer's expense to witness the testing. Actually, LaGuer didn't have any money, so she really flew out at the expense of John Silber, Deval Patrick and others who wanted to see a fair and legitimate test. The Patrick administration is now doing the right thing in getting an outside auditor to look at how the crime lab functions. A government spokesperson told the Globe:

[Recent revelations] confirm the need for the comprehensive analysis that the Patrick administration announced last week. It has asked for proposals for an independent management consultant who would be paid up to $250,000 to evaluate all operations at the crime laboratory.
It is imperative that the LaGuer case be part of that review. Maybe then, Patrick will finally get his money's worth from helping to support what turned out to be a botched test.

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