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SBI Audit Prompts Calls for Reform

August 20, 2010

RALEIGH, N. C. - An audit of North Carolina's State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) crime lab has investigators calling for the review of at least 190 cases, in which they feel information that would have benefited defendants was either not presented or mishandled.

The investigation was conducted by two former FBI agents. Gerda Stein, with the Center for Death Penalty Litigation, says the results aren't surprising.

"It's become very clear, as a result of this report, that the SBI investigators considered themselves members of the prosecution team."

Released this week, the report contains findings that 230 cases filed over a 16-year period included blood evidence that was incomplete, falsified or withheld. Three were death penalty cases in which the inmates were executed.

This is only the beginning of the fallout from such a report, says Stein.

"We don't know anything for certain in light of the findings of this report. And executions simply cannot go forward under this dark cloud of uncertainty."

According to published reports, the new head of the SBI, Greg McLeod, says he is open to creating an independent lab. The audit focused on the SBI's blood stain analysis unit. Stein says the Center for Death Penalty Litigation and others are calling for a thorough review of other sections of the lab, including the DNA lab, ballistics and drug chemistry.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC