The Innocence Project Speaks Out About DNA Mistake

LAS VEGAS -- Metro police admitted Thursday that they mixed up DNA samples in a 2001 robbery case that sent the wrong man to prison. Now, an organization that helps inmates seek new trials based on DNA evidence thinks Metro should make some changes.

The Innocence Project has helped exonerate many inmates wrongly convicted of their crimes through DNA re-testing. They didn't help in this case because the convicted man, Dwayne Jackson, served out his robbery sentence.

Metro wants to reassure the public it has improved its procedures.

"We know we have different quality assurance standards today than we did in 2001, but even though that mistake was made in 2001, we want to make sure our current processes will catch that mistake, or better yet, prevent it," said Asst. Sheriff Ray Flynn, Metro.

Metro's crime lab is an independent agency within the police department. It's nationally accredited, follows federal guidelines and was internally audited in 2001 before the DNA mix-up happened.

The Innocence Project is a national organization working with crime labs like Metro's. The head of the local chapter at UNLV believes the crime lab should have a different set of eyes look at what they're doing so mistakes don't happen.

"I think it would be better if they were to open their doors to an independent audit, to actually say, 'look we made the mistake, and we're not confident in our own procedures. We're willing to turn over our records to someone else and have them tell us what we're doing wrong,'" said Kate Kruse, UNLC Innocence Clinic.

8 News NOW requested an interview with someone who works in the crime lab but the request was denied.

The forensic scientist who mixed up the DNA samples has been put on paid administrative leave while Metro does its own investigation. He's been with Metro since 1983 and transferred out of the DNA unit in 2004 long before this mistake was discovered.


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