innocence blog

A Web log for the Innocence Institute of Point Park University

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Re-trial or release

A federal court has ruled Steven Slutzker should get a new trial within 120 days or be released. Slutzker was convicted of killing his lover's husband in the infamous repressed memory case a few years back. Thirty years after the crime, the murdered man's son claimed he had a flashback putting Slutzker at the scene. Another witness sealed the deal when she testified she also saw Slutzker at the time.

An Innocence Institute investigation found hidden police reports showed the witness told police right after the killing that she was sure the man wasn't Slutzker. In addition, one cop said the son slept through the murder, other evidence raised questions about the validity of the repressed memory diagnosis and alibi witnesses put Slutzker across town at the time of the killing.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Crappy crime labs

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer continues exposing junk science in state crime labs with a story on forensic scientist Charles Vaughan. According to the story, Vaughn helped wrongfully convict two men in Oregon for murder, yet now finds himself back at work in Washington.

In the Oregon case, Vaughn testified hairs found on the scene were connected to the men -- which was later shown to be bogus. One of 12 flakes of blood found on the men were from the victim, but later evidence showed Vaughn himself could have contaminated the evidence during testing.

The piece follows the PI's in-depth investigation into the state crime labs, which showed forensic scientists contaminated tests or made other mistakes while handling DNA evidence in at least 23 cases over three years.