Monday, November 17, 2008

Detroit crime lab woes may mean new trial in murder case

A 2006 murder case may be retried because a gun and shells used as evidence was processed at the now-closed Detroit police crime lab. The Wayne County prosecutor's office has agreed to send Edward Hill's murder conviction back to a circuit court judge who could order a new trial, spokeswoman Maria Miller told The Associated Press Thursday. Hill's conviction is one of two new cases appealed by defense lawyers challenging evidence tested at the lab. Evidence in a separate 2007 double-murder case will be retested, Miller said. Hill is in prison for second-degree murder and assault with intent to murder for a shooting at a Detroit party store, Farmington Hills defense attorney Gerald Lorence said.

The crime lab was shut down in September after a Michigan State Police audit found mistakes and errors in some evidence used to prosecute murder and other cases. The report found a 10 percent error rate in a random sampling of 200 cases and subpar quality control compliance at the lab. Worthy's office is looking at past cases where lab findings were used or admitted into evidence.

Lorence said an independent expert he hired could not confirm if gun shells from the party store shooting matched a weapon police found in Hill's home. "The minute I got the information that they closed the Detroit crime lab I went to the prosecutor," Lorence said.

The second case being appealed involves the assault rifle shooting deaths of two people and wounding of two others at an illegal drinking and gambling club, Miller said. Samuel Bridges was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder. "Some people shot back," Miller said in an e-mail. "That accounts for some bullets found at the scene."

The prosecutor's office has agreed to retest the evidence, but the state appeals court denied a motion by Bridges' attorney to send his case back to circuit court for retrial. The Associated Press left a message Thursday seeking comment from Bridges' attorney.

A judge last month also granted a 21-year-old Detroit man a new trial after state police determined the crime lab erred when it found that 42 shell casings from a May 2007 shooting were from the same weapon. Worthy ordered the audit after state police investigators said two different weapons were used in that shooting.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

No comments: