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Boston Crime Lab Probed for Incorrect DNA Results

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Boston Crime Lab Probed for Incorrect DNA Results


Boston Crime Lab Probed for Incorrect DNA Results

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This is DAY TO DAY from NPR News. I'm Alex Chadwick.


I'm Luke Burbank.

In Boston, the FBI has been asked to investigate the case of a state crime lab administrator accused of mishandling the DNA results of 25 sexual assault cases.

Jonathan Saltzman has been covering this story for The Boston Globe. I asked him how this could've happened.

Mr. JONATHAN SALTZMAN (Reporter, The Boston Globe): What we've been told is that Mr. Robert Pino, who oversaw this database, sat on these results. He failed to report these result of matches to law enforcement agencies until the statute of limitations expired. And so there might have been an instance where a laboratory that tested the DNA got a hit, and he got the results. And then weeks or months passed, and he failed to report it on.

And Mr. Pino has not spoken to us directly because he says that he's prohibited by, you know, under the terms of his suspension. So it's a little unclear exactly why he did what he's accused of doing.

BURBANK: I mean, is there any reopening any of these cases?

Mr. SALTZMAN: Well, initially, law-enforcement officials, some prosecutors, said that they had hope they might be able to reopen these cases. Because under some of the quirks of the statute of limitations laws, if a defendant - or suspect, rather - had left the state for a couple of years, that would stop the clock.

But in an interview a couple of weeks ago with the head of the Executive Office of Public Safety, Secretary Burke said that, in fact, not of these cases can be reopened. And so, you know, those people will not be able to be prosecuted.

BURBANK: Have there been reactions yet from any of the victims of crimes who may have had the evidence that would have solved the crime right there, and it just - it just, sort of, sat there, I guess, until it was too late?

Mr. SALTZMAN: Well, you know, law enforcement officials and the state police have not publicly identified the suspects, in fact, let alone the victims. So there hasn't been any victim who's come forward and said, you know, that this is an outrage.

We have spoken to some advocates for victims of violence, and they, you know, they clearly are troubled by this because it might mean that some people are getting away with some very serious crimes. Meanwhile, a number of defense lawyers say that they do plan to challenge some convictions on the basis of this. But at the same time, prosecutors have taken pains to say that this is not a problem with the DNA evidence itself, that's it an administrative problem.

But that might be a little difficult for, you know, to parse out. And as some defense lawyers have said, you know, the juries aren't made up of scientists. So they may be a little more skeptical.

BURBANK: Jonathan Saltzman of The Boston Globe, thanks so much for your time.

Mr. SALTZMAN: Thanks for having me.

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