Saturday, 17 February 2007

Three cases reviewed in Cleveland's crime lab audit

Three cases reviewed in Cleveland's crime lab audit

Associated Press

The following three cases were among the 34 reviewed in the ongoing audit of Cleveland's crime lab:

DEFENDANT: Douglas Smith

CRIME: Raped a woman who lived in the apartment below his and stole a VCR and $22 in cash and food stamps in July 1992.

CONVICTION: Found guilty of rape, aggravated burglary and aggravated robbery.

SENTENCE: Fifteen to 50 years in prison. Died in September.

AUDIT FINDING: No original data was recording during the testing of evidence, leaving it impossible to determine whether the conclusions were accurate. Misstatements were made during forensic analyst Joseph Serowik's testimony but they did not appear to be intentional. The case "raises the question of his extent of training and understanding regarding the subjects with which he was dealing."

DEFENDANT: Daryl Thornton

CRIME: Dragged a woman into his vehicle, drove to an abandoned garage and raped her in the back seat in January 1989.

CONVICTION: Found guilty of rape and kidnapping.

SENTENCE: Served 15 years and eight months in prison. Released November 2005.

AUDIT FINDING: No laboratory notes, data sheets or documentation of original data was available. No intent to mislead the jury was observed, but Serowik didn't appear to understand the material. "While this case serologically is relatively uncomplicated, Mr. Serowik demonstrated a lack of understanding in the interpretative aspects of the case and consequently was not capable of accurately presenting the implications of his analytical conclusions to the court."

DEFENDANT: Wilford Berry

CRIME: Shot Charles Mitroff in the head while robbing his bakery in 1989.

CONVICTION: Found guilty of aggravated murder, aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary.

SENTENCE: Became first inmate executed since 1963 when he waived his appeals and volunteered to be killed by lethal injection on Feb. 19, 1999.

AUDIT FINDING: No reason found to conclude testing was improperly conducted, but there were no notes or logs documenting the recovery of evidence. Serowik's testimony did not include any misstatements. "Apparently the department required no report on this kind of activity so Mr. Serowik was doing his job."

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