N.C. crime lab accused of distorting tests

Aug. 19, 2010 at 1:26 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Aug. 19 (UPI) -- North Carolina investigators withheld or distorted evidence in some 200 criminal cases at the expense of potentially innocent defendants, a report charges.

An FBI audit of the State Bureau of Investigation ordered by Georgia Attorney General Roy Cooper found potential violations of the United States Constitution and North Carolina laws by withholding information favorable to defendants, The Charlotte Observer reported Thursday.

"This report is troubling," Cooper, who oversees the SBI, said. "It describes a practice that should not have been unacceptable then and is not acceptable now."

The review was prompted by the exoneration of a Wake Country man imprisoned for a murder he didn't commit when an SBI analyst admitted in February he didn't report results of a test showing a substance in the man's SUV was not blood.

The audit of cases, some going back 20 years, found repeated instances of test results favorable to defendants not being reported by the blood lab at the SBI.

The FBI report paints a picture of a renegade unit at the SBI crime lab acting without rules and with disregard for the science behind blood analysis, the Observer said.

Cooper dismissed SBI Director Robin Pendergraft last month after she struggled to answer questions about SBI cases and policies, the Observer reported.

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