Associated Press

Maryland Police Reviewing 480 DNA Cases

March 12, 2003

By Associated Press

TOWSON, Md. -- Baltimore County police are reviewing 480 cases worked on by a department chemist who testified at a 1983 rape trial against a defendant who was later exonerated.

The review involves all blood-typing cases handled by former police chemist Concepcion Bacasnot, a department spokesman said.

"We're going to be looking for people who are still in jail and whose cases could possibly be affected," police spokesman Bill Toohey said. None of the cases involve defendants now on death row, he said.

A judge freed Bernard Webster in November, nearly 20 years after he was convicted of rape, because new DNA tests showed he did not commit the crime.

The Innocence Project, a New York-based legal clinic that handled Webster's case, commended the police review but said an independent audit should be conducted.

"It certainly confirms our sense that what came up in the Webster case was troubling enough to merit a review," said Nina Morrison, the Innocence Project's director.

Bacasnot has said that she does not remember Webster's case, and that nobody at the county police department ever questioned the quality of her work. She said she left the department in 1987 for personal reasons.

Forensic expert Edward T. Blake, who reviewed Bacasnot's testimony for the Innocence Project, said Bacasnot falsely testified that the rapist's blood was type A, like Webster's.



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