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Houston crime lab implicated in another possible wrongful conviction

Twenty two years after being wrongfully convicted for a rape and robbery in Texas, a Houston man may be released on bail this week on the heels of new DNA tests proving his innocence.

Gary Alvin Richard was arrested for the January 1987 attack of a 22-year-old nursing student and was convicted based largely on evidence processed by the Houston Police Department crime lab, the same lab that came under fire in 2002 after local reports raised questions about the quality of DNA testing. According to the Houston Chronicle, there are a number of problems with Richard’s case:

The victim identified him some seven months after the attack. HPD crime lab analysts came to conflicting conclusions about the evidence, but reported only the results favorable to the case. Physical evidence collected in what is known as a “rape kit” has been destroyed, a victim of poor evidence preservation practices, leaving nothing for DNA testing now.


Read the full story here.

(Houston Chronicle, 4/24/09)

During his original trial, HPD crime lab supervisor James Bolding testified that Richard was a non-secretor, meaning that analysts would not be able to determine Richard’s blood type through his body fluids. However, while tests done last week confirmed that semen from the rape kit came from a non-secretor, it also showed that Richard is a secretor. Therefore, the semen found on the rape kit could not be his.

While Richard’s defense claims that the blood tests prove his innocence, prosecutors aren’t as sure. The Houston District Attorney’s office concedes that Richard should be released on bail, but has said that it is too early in the reexamination process to clear Richard of all charges. Three Harris County men have already been proven innocent through DNA testing after mistakes at the HPD crime lab led to their wrongful convictions:

Josiah Sutton

,

George Rodriguez

and

Ronald Taylor

.

Read more about

the history of the Houston crime lab scandal

in previous blog posts.

 

1 Comment

  1. Deanna Thornburg

    I have a brother in texas prison his name is Michael E Riley his DNA was not a Complete match and they never tested the hair that was found in the victim hand to mike riley their is a lot of thinks that don’t add up, his lawyer didn’t put on a defense Mikes family dose not have money and he did some pretty stupid things before this and by not telling on Rita but he dose not deserve to spend the rest of his life in prison it s been 19 years so far ,his id number is 917301 he is in the Ellis Unit in Huntsville TX he tried to do his own appeals but they just keep shutting him down the DNA was tested by Kohl and the said statistically ,there were other people in Harris county with the same DNA as Appellant Michael Riley please help

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