clearn.png
Thursday October 17th, 2019 1:32AM

Renowned forensic scientist's testimony comes under question

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Forensic scientist Henry Lee, who became famous for his testimony in the O.J. Simpson trial and his work on other high-profile murder cases, defended his reputation Thursday after lawyers this week again questioned the accuracy of blood-evidence testimony he gave decades ago.

Wendall Hasan has been in prison since 1986 for the murder of George Tyler, of Darien, Connecticut. Hasan's lawyers filed court papers Tuesday arguing he should be freed after tests done in 2014 found no blood on a pair of sneakers that Lee testified were bloodstained.

That move came after the Connecticut Supreme Court criticized Lee last month when it overturned the convictions of two men for a 1985 murder.

"I stand behind my scientific merit," Lee said during a news conference at the University of New Haven's Henry C. Lee Institute of Forensic Science. "If the person's really innocent, definitely, they should set them free. But, just trying to smear my reputation to get (their appeal) advanced, that shouldn't happen."

Lee said, for example, that the blood from the shoes in the Hasan case likely was used up during his earlier testing, though he acknowledged he has not been able to review the file. It's also possible, he said, that any other blood on the pair of Pumas might have degraded over the decades.

"You cannot say that 30 years ago it wasn't there," he said. "The bloodstain was tested in 1986."

Lawyers for Hasan issued a statement Thursday saying they would not comment on the details of the case but look forward to questioning Lee in court.

The convictions of Sean Henning and Ralph Birth were set aside last month based on testing that showed stains on a towel, which Lee had testified were consistent with blood, were something else. The men served more than 30 years in prison.

Lee also faces criticism over the conviction of David Weinberg in the 1988 murder of a Connecticut teen, Joyce Stochmal. Lee testified in that case that he could not determine the source of blood that was found on a knife linked to Weinberg.

But Weinberg's lawyers, who successfully petitioned for his release on time served two years ago, said Lee knew that tests done on the knife and on hair fragments showed the blood was from an animal, not a human.

"This is not a problem with the science at the time," said Darcy McGraw, the director of the Connecticut Innocence Project and Weinberg's attorney. "This is 100 percent a problem with Dr. Lee."

The 80-year-old Lee, who served for years as the head of the state police crime lab, responded Thursday at a news conference that his testimony in all those cases was truthful and accurate.

Lee became internationally famous after his testimony in the 1995 Simpson murder trial, in which he questioned the handling of blood evidence. He also served as a consultant in other high-profile investigations, such as the 1996 slaying in Colorado of 6-year-old JonBenét Ramsey.

He at one point was the subject of a television show, "Trace Evidence: The Case Files of Dr. Henry Lee."

Lee acknowledged Thursday that DNA and other forensic testing has come a long way over the past three decades. But that doesn't mean, he said, that his testimony at the time was inaccurate.

He suggested that the state set up a panel of former judges, scientists and others who can go over disputed forensic evidence in old cases to get at the truth.

"They shouldn't be able to just try to smear my reputation to get out of jail," he said. "There has to be standards and ethics for everyone."

McGraw said the problem has little to do with the science. She said in her case it was that juries and court officials, including herself, would take Lee's word as gospel.

"Here is the most famous forensic scientist in the world telling you he doesn't know the source of this blood," she said. "That leaves a very different impression on you than the truth."

She declined to say whether the Innocence Project is looking into any other cases in which Lee was a key witness.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Renowned forensic scientist's testimony comes under question
Renowned forensic scientist Henry Lee is defending work he did three decades ago
3:14PM ( 7 minutes ago )
Biden promises to end 'forever wars' as president
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is promising to refocus American foreign policy to combat the authoritarianism and global instability he says are proliferating under President Donald Trump
3:00PM ( 21 minutes ago )
Rough total for Trump's July Fourth extravaganza: $5.4M
The cost estimates are in on the tanks, fireworks and portable toilets, and the first rough total possible for President Donald Trump's July Fourth extravaganza: $5.4 million
2:54PM ( 27 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
US poised to begin immigration enforcement operation
A nationwide immigration enforcement operation targeting people who are in the United States illegally is expected to begin this weekend after it was postponed last month by President Donald Trump
2:31PM ( 50 minutes ago )
Bosnian Muslims mark 1995 massacre of thousands with burials
Thousands of mourners gathered in Bosnia to commemorate the 24th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, the worst mass killing in Europe since World War II
2:29PM ( 52 minutes ago )
Trump to announce new executive action on census question
Trump expected to announce new executive action during news conference on the 2020 census and his push to include a citizenship question
2:24PM ( 57 minutes ago )
AP National News
AP Exclusive: Officer alleges sexual misconduct by general
A senior military officer has accused the Air Force general tapped to be the next vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of sexual misconduct, potentially jeopardizing the nomination
12:30PM ( 2 hours ago )
Desegregation remains an issue in many US schools
As Democratic presidential candidates debate the federal government's role racially integrating public schools, federal intervention and court-ordered desegregation live on in one Mississippi Delta town
12:25PM ( 2 hours ago )
Trump plans new move to force citizenship question on census
Trump expected to announce new executive action during news conference on the 2020 census and his push to include a citizenship question
12:16PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Biden promises to end 'forever wars' as president
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is promising to refocus American foreign policy to combat the authoritarianism and global instability he says are proliferating under President Donald Trump
3:00PM ( 21 minutes ago )
Rough total for Trump's July Fourth extravaganza: $5.4M
The cost estimates are in on the tanks, fireworks and portable toilets, and the first rough total possible for President Donald Trump's July Fourth extravaganza: $5.4 million
2:54PM ( 27 minutes ago )
US budget deficit jumps 23% through June
US budget deficit increases to $747.1 billion, up 23.1%, over last year
2:51PM ( 30 minutes ago )
Hospital fires 23 workers in case of excessive doses, deaths
An Ohio hospital system says it's firing 23 more employees and changing leadership after investigating excessive painkiller doses given to dozens of patients who died
2:50PM ( 32 minutes ago )
The Latest: UN chief calls for 'maximum restraint' in Gulf
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is again calling for "maximum restraint" in the Persian Gulf region and warning all parties that a new confrontation "would be a catastrophe."
2:49PM ( 32 minutes ago )