View Full Version : When DNA evidence goes missing,

08-12-2008, 10:19 AM
link (http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2008/01/27/dna1.html) <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">A man on Ohio's Death Row held faint hope that a DNA test might keep him from his grave. But no one could find the evidence in the Cleveland man's murder case.

Another man was changing a flat tire when a 5-year-old girl pointed to him as the man who had raped her 11 weeks earlier. The Toledo man was convicted on little more than her word. A DNA test could end all doubts, but swabs from the girl's medical exam are lost in an evidence room the manager describes as a disaster.

A judge ordered a DNA test for a Cleveland man, but the evidence remains untested more than two years later. When his father died, the prisoner stood alone over the casket, in shackles and unable to prove his innocence.

These cases reflect the empty promises and missed opportunities typical of Ohio's inmate DNA testing program.

A yearlong Dispatch investigation revealed a system in which prosecutors ignore court orders for testing, judges reject inmates without following the law, and evidence is routinely lost or destroyed before it can be tested.

The flaws have ruinous consequences for inmates, victims and society at large.

Mistakes or misdeeds?

DNA cases in Ohio go awry for all sorts of reasons, many of which boil down to simple indifference. They are cases stalled or doomed by official inaction more than any suspected misdeed, records show.

Then there are cases such as Michael Hamilton's.

Hamilton, 57, of Springfield, requested a DNA test 14 years after he was convicted of raping a teenage girl in Clark County. But the rape kit -- typically oral, vaginal and anal swabs taken at a hospital -- was gone.

The prosecutor said a detective had returned clothing and a watch, along with the rape kit, to the 13-year-old victim after the trial.

"That would be strange," acknowledged Assistant County Prosecutor Daniel Driscoll in a recent interview. He agreed to look into it but never provided an explanation, despite at least four attempts to reach him again for details. The Dispatch couldn't locate the victim.

"The state does not have a duty to preserve evidence indefinitely after a conviction has become final," the judge noted in denying a DNA test for Hamilton.

But the ruling didn't address that the evidence, according to the prosecutor, was preserved for only 25 days after Hamilton's trial.

Most DNA cases clouded by allegations of misconduct never attracted attention and quietly faded away.

An exception was the case of Anthony Michael Green, 42, of Cleveland, who was freed from prison in 2001 after serving 13 years for a rape that DNA tests showed he didn't commit. As part of a $1.6 million settlement, Green demanded an audit of the Cleveland crime-lab analyst whose testimony helped convict him.

The review found that analyst Joseph Serowik "intentionally fabricated evidence." He was fired.

Auditors also determined last year that Serowik misled the jury in a murder case that led to lengthy sentences for Thomas Siller and Walter Zimmer, both of whom now want a new trial. The review of Serowik's 17 years of work at the lab continues. Serowik could not be reached for comment.

Inmate Phillip Gammalo, 50, of Cleveland, was convicted in 2000 of rape and murder. Four years later, a prosecutor reported that only a bottle and a jar -- debris, apparently, from the crime scene -- remained in the evidence room.

But the state public defender's office, with one phone call to the same evidence room, turned up five more pieces of evidence, including clothing and a blanket.

The discovery, his lawyer said, "cast serious doubt" on the prosecutor's statements that "no biological materials exist" for DNA testing.

A judge granted a DNA test.

"I was so happy," Gammalo said. "'Now I'm gonna prove my innocence!' "

That was in April 2006. No one has done the DNA test yet. </div></div>

"The review found that analyst Joseph Serowik "intentionally fabricated evidence." He was fired."


He should be in jail along with the prosecutors..


08-12-2008, 10:39 AM
Q, it's Ohio, remember...home to both Wally and lww, also home to the Taft family.
Since the Ohio CCR's couldn't get enough national support to overturn Roe V Wade....they did an "end around" play.
It is now illegal to leave Ohio to have an abortion in another state. I'm not sure what the penalty is...death by lethal injection?

08-12-2008, 11:30 AM
I agree, he should have had his butt thrown in jail and all his earnings during that time sent over to the guy that was wrongly tossed in jail. I know you cannot give a person his time back but at least the money would help out some.