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Chilling Questions Raised about FBI’s Flawed Testimony on Microscopic Hair

By The Charlotte Observer
Editorial Board

In a chilling admission last week, the FBI and Justice Department acknowledged that examiners in an elite FBI microscopic hair comparison unit gave flawed testimony in more than 95 percent of trials over approximately two decades before 2000.

What’s more chilling is what we don’t yet know about additional cases across the country, including in North Carolina.

The Washington Post reports that more than 200 trials have been examined thus far in which the elite forensic unit overstated the link between hair found at a crime scene and a defendant’s hair. In cases where such testimony was given, 32 defendants were sentenced to death, and 14 were executed or have died in prison. At least 1,200 cases are still awaiting examination.

Tucked away at the bottom of the Post’s report is another disturbing note: These same FBI examiners taught 500 to 1,000 state and local crime analysts to give microscopic hair comparison testimony in the same ways. That could affect more cases in North Carolina and throughout the United States.

North Carolina, at least, is already taking steps to examine the impact. The state is one of just a few across the country that already has investigated cases involving the FBI forensics unit. Thus far, there are just three FBI cases involving North Carolina defendants, probably because the State Bureau of Investigation did its own hair analysis in state cases.

To read more click here. 

 


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