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Archive for April, 2015

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. 

 

FBI Finds No Civil Rights Violations in Deputy Shooting of Black Man in Texas

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

A white sheriff’s reserve deputy who killed a black man in Tulsa, Okla., did not commit civil rights violations, the FBI has found following an investigation.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Tulsa County sheriff’s office held a news conference to announce the FBI findings.

“They found no wrongdoing,” Sheriff Stanley Glanz said at a news conference.

The FBI said it is open to “re-evaluating the matter should new information or evidence come to the surface.”

The shooting was captured by a camera worn by a deputy. After a shot rings out, the reserve deputy, 73-year-old Robert Bates, is heard saying, “I shot him. I’m sorry.”

Bates is already charged with second-degree manslaughter.

Mexican Immigrant Busted for Stealing Border Patrol Agent’s Identity

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Border Patrol agents did a double-take after checking a bus passenger’s papers at a checkpoint in Falfurrias, Texas.

The passenger’s license, birth certificate and Social Security card all identified the  passenger as 34-year-old David, a fellow Border Patrol agent assigned to the same area, Valley Central reports.

Agents knew it wasn’t David, whose last name hasn’t been identified to protect his privacy.

The man was actually 24-year-old Orlando Castaneda-Diaz, a Mexican citizen who allegedly crossed the border on April 12.

It wasn’t immediately clear how the identity was stolen.

Other Stories of Interest


Bill Will Allow Retired Federal Agents to Carry Concealed Pistol in Restricted Zones

By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

LANSING — On April 14th, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed Senate Bill 53 that will correct an oversight in a law for retired federal law enforcement agents. The bill will take effect 90 days after the signing.

Michigan statutes regulating the licensing of individuals to carry a concealed pistol had designated certain places “gun free zones,” such as schools, places of worship, sports arenas, taverns, etc. Retired law enforcement officers with a concealed pistol license were exempt from the gun free zone restriction.

The problem: The statute had defined a retired LEO as an individual who was a police officer certified pursuant to Michigan law and retired in good standing from their agency. Consequently, under the statute retired federal LEOs by definition were not retired LEOs and were not exempt from the gun free zone restriction.

The amendment to the the statute (SB 53) signed by Gov. Snyder adds federal LEOs as defined retired LEOs. Now, retired federal agents will be exempt from the gun free zone restriction.

PHOTO ABOVE: 

Greg Stejskal, Detroit Chapter SFAFBI; William Hampstead, Pres. Mich. chapter FLEOA; Mark Holloway, retired Border Patrol; Gov. Rick Snyder; Sen Rick Jones, who introduced the bill and was formerly Sheriff Eaton County; Sandra McCormick, Senator Jones’ Chief of Staff; Bob Getschman, W. Mich. Chapter SFAFBI.

All of the above pictured with the governor were involved in helping shepherd the bill through the legislative process.

Elite FBI Forensic Unit Gave Bad Testimony in Cases Involving Hair Evidence

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI and Justice Department admitted for the first time that forensic unit for the bureau provided false testimony in nearly every trial that involved hair analysis, The Washington Post reports. 

All but two of the 28 examiners with the FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit “overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far” in a 20-year period before 2000, the Post wrote, citing the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Innocent Project, which are helping the government review sketchy forensic evidence.

Of those cases, 32 defendants were sentenced two death, and 14 have been executed or died in prison.

Whether the errors will force retrials is unknown. The government is alerting defendants in 46 states of the flaws.

The Washington Post wrote:

“The admissions mark a watershed in one of the country’s largest forensic scandals, highlighting the failure of the nation’s courts for decades to keep bogus scientific information from juries, legal analysts said. The question now, they said, is how state authorities and the courts will respond to findings that confirm long-suspected problems with subjective, pattern-based forensic techniques — like hair and bite-mark comparisons — that have contributed to wrongful convictions in more than one-quarter of 329 DNA-exoneration cases since 1989.”

FBI Arrests 6 in Minneapolis, San Diego in Connection with Terrorism Probe

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An FBI terrorism investigation netted six arrests in Minneapolis and San Diego on Sunday.

Information was murky early Monday, but a press conference later in the day is expected to shed light on the charges and allegations.

“There is no threat to public safety,” Ben Petok, spokesman for U.S. Attorney Andy Luger, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Among those arrested were members of Minneapolis’ sizable Somali population.

“The community is in a state of confusion,” Jamal said Sunday night. “They don’t know what is going on. … This is a very serious issue. We as a community are concerned about losing our kids to [ISIL].”

2 Border Patrol Agents Injured in Boat Collision Near U.S-Mexico Border

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Two Border Patrol agents were injured Sunday evening when their agency boat and another boat collided on the Rio Grande outside of Anzaldaus Park in Mission, Texas, KRGV reports. 

Both agents were taken to the hospital, one by air, one by ambulance.

“First is the agents’ safety. We want to make sure they’re okay. We want to make sure they have medical attention,” said Chris Cabrera, Border Patrol Union Vice President. Obviously we have some already in the hospital. We want to make sure any injuries that haven’t come up yet get attended to. The other thing is their mental well being….make sure they have somebody to talk to if  need be. Service is really good at making sure the agents have somebody to talk to. However sometimes the agents don’t want to let their guard down until they get around their peers so sometimes we talk to them and make sure they’re ok in that aspect.”

A Border Patrol spokesman said more information will become available Monday.

IG Looking at DEA’s Handling of Informant Payments

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The DEA is under examination for its handling of informant payments.

The Department of Justice’s Inspector General probe comes as the DEA spends more money on informants.

The DEA spent $33 million last year on informants but has done a poor job in the past tracking the money, wrote The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.