Associated Press

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Army lab launches probe of DNA tests
By ROBERT BURNS
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Army is investigating accusations that a civilian forensic examiner at the Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory at Fort Gillem, Ga., falsified DNA test results.

The accusations, if true, would throw into doubt hundreds of criminal cases dating back at least 10 years.

The examiner on June 2 admitted making a false entry on a control sample used during one DNA examination, and the laboratory is reviewing 479 or more cases the examiner has worked on since he began in 1995, according to an announcement yesterday by the Army Criminal Investigation Command.

The examiner was suspended from duty in May after the accusations surfaced. His name was not released.

The Gillem lab is reviewing all cases the examiner handled, including an unspecified number that led to criminal convictions, officials said. The Army also is seeking assistance from other agencies to review DNA testing procedures to ensure that the matter is limited to the one examiner.

The top lawyers of the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps have been notified by letter of the "identified deficiencies" in the DNA testing. In addition, the CID is alerting all Pentagon criminal-investigation organizations so the custodians of evidence from cases that the examiner handled can preserve that evidence.

The Fort Gillem lab is the only Army facility that performs forensic examinations in support of military criminal cases. It provides services to all military investigative agencies and is the only accredited full-service crime lab in the federal government outside the FBI.

The examiner was temporarily suspended from DNA case work in January 2004, when contamination was detected in his testing, officials said. After "remedial action and retraining," he returned to work in September 2004.

No other details of the earlier suspension were released.


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