By Marc Perrusquia
Thursday, August 30, 2012
In yet another twist in case of the West Memphis Three, defense attorneys say new testing excludes the only crime scene evidence prosecutors had to convict defendants Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley in 1994 — a series of tiny clothing fibers.
Testing completed in May by three experts — including a former FBI crime lab scientist — found serious flaws in government's fiber testing conducted in 1993-94, says Baldwin's attorney, John T. Philipsborn, in a letter to Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel.
"What is … disturbing and clearly indicative of the problematic evidence that the State introduced in the Baldwin/Echols trial, is the clear evidence that the State's fiber evidence is flawed,'' Philipsborn says in the letter dated Aug. 28.
A report by Max M. Houck, former physical scientist in the Trace Evidence Unit of the FBI's crime lab, offers a more blistering critique of the state's fiber evidence testing.
"The sloppiness of the notes, the lack of data and documentation, the erratic nature of the color analysis data all suggest scientists who were poorly trained to do the casework they were responsible for and were operating at the margin of competency, were derelict in their assigned duties, or were otherwise unable to properly conduct this kind of scientific work,'' Houck says in the report.
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