Harward Exoneration Prompts Virginia Department of Forensic Science to Review Old Cases

Alejandra de la Fuente — October 13, 2016 @ 4:00 PM — Comments (0)

Thanks to the recent exoneration of Keith Allen Harward, the Virginia Department of Forensic Science’s (VDFS) review of old blood-typing cases was approved by the Virginia Forensic Science Board. The review will be conducted on 200 sample cases from 1982, 1986, and 1990. Harward spent 33 years in prison for the 1982 murder of a man and the rape of his wife, neither of which he committed. He was convicted in 1983 for capital murder and received a life sentence, but the conviction was overturned due to legal technical errors. Adidas Zx 500 Homme Harward was tried and convicted again in 1986 but for first-degree murder, and was once again sentenced to life. DNA testing later disproved the bite-mark testimony that helped convict him—a science whose credibility has been called into question in recent years. According to court papers, Harward’s attorneys argued that the simple blood test conducted more than 30 years ago proved Harward was not the perpetrator. Nike Roshe Run Femme David A. Pomposini, the forensic serologist for the VDFS who conducted that test, however, did not include those results in his formal report or testimony. Air Jordan 10 Homme The Innocence Project, which represented Harward, stated that Pomposini worked for the department from 1981 to 2012, during which time he also performed blood typing in Troy Webb’s case. Webb was convicted in 1988 for a rape in Virginia Beach that he did not commit, but DNA evidence exonerated him in 1996. According to a professor at the University of Virginia School of Law, Pomposini should have excluded Webb as the assailant, but failed to do so. Before DNA testing became available in the early 1990s, possible perpetrator pools were narrowed down using blood-typing tests. Nike Pas Cher Those tests utilized antigens, which show a person’s blood type and are found in secretions such as saliva or sperm. New Balance 996 homme About 80 percent of people leave those antigens, while the secretions of the remaining 20 percent cannot determine a person’s blood type. Blood-typing test results revealed that Harward was a type-A secretor, which contradicted Pomposini’s formal certificate of analysis that was presented during Harward’s trial. The serologist stated that secretion-typing tests performed on seminal fluid that was left on Harward’s wife could not determine a blood type. During the 1986 trial, Pomposini testified that according to his tests, results showed the assailant was either a non-secretor, or was a secretor who failed to leave enough blood type evidence to identify his blood type. The prosecutor included those formal findings and testimony in his closing arguments to the jury during that trial, stating that although the sperm’s blood-typing did not include Harward, it also did not exclude him. The Innocence Project received Pomposini’s lab notes from the VDFS last year that revealed crucial evidence that was never presented during Harward’s trials, which is a violation. Nike Air Max 2016 Femme Those notes indicated that sperm presumably left by the assailant contained antigens that Pomposini determined to be of the O blood type. Another serologist stated in an affidavit that antigens consistent with a type-O secretor were clearly identified by Pomposini in his lab notes. According to counsel for the VDFS, until DNA testing became available in the early 1990s, they conducted routine blood group typing—the type of tests that were called into question during the Harward and Webb cases, which later incited the department to carry out the 200-case review. Nike Free 5.0 enfants The sample will consist of 100 cases from the VDFS’s eastern laboratory, and 100 from their northern laboratory. Lab notes, test results, and trial testimony will be reviewed in order to determine if there are any problems in any of the cases, along with a legal research engine that will examine appeals court opinions in cases that may be reviewed. The review team will consist of two department forensic scientists and perhaps a serologist unaffiliated with the department that would review randomly selected cases. The department may have difficulty finding qualified volunteers, as most serologists—including Pomposini—transitioned into DNA testing and many of which have since retired. Should the review team determine that an error might have been made, the department will attempt to locate the case’s prosecutor and defense lawyer. If requested and the prosecution and defense agree, or if a court order is issued, any remaining biological evidence will be tested by the VDFS. Nike Air Max Thea Femme Bleu According to the director of the VDFS, the goal of the review aims to determine whether an error that occurred was an isolated incident or if there was a systemic problem that needs to be addressed.

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