January 31, 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Houston Forensic Science Center has terminated a member of its digital multimedia
evidence section who shredded original case notes from a homicide scene, a violation of
HFSC policy and procedure.
The problem was uncovered by another member of the section who then brought it to
the attention of a supervisor, indicating HFSC’s quality systems are working as
intended.
The analyst’s actions will be disclosed to the Texas Forensic Science Commission, the
state oversight board, as suspected professional misconduct. HFSC has notified the
Houston Police Department and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.
HFSC will redo the forensic analysis in the homicide case to ensure law enforcement
and prosecutors have accurate, reliable information that will assist in their
investigation. This issue pertains to one case, but HFSC will also audit all the work,
more than 100 cases, the analyst completed during her nearly two years of employment
with the Center.
“HFSC will not tolerate the potential of professional misconduct and takes seriously
any mishaps that may impact a criminal investigation,” said Dr. Peter Stout, HFSC’s
CEO and president.
“For this reason, we have strong quality systems in place and we are satisfied they
worked as intended in this incident,” Dr. Stout said. “Should the audit findings indicate
we need to further strengthen those systems we will do so to ensure similar mistakes
are not made going forward.”
Several administrative errors had been found during a standard technical review of the
former analyst’s case notes from the homicide scene.
To correct the errors, the analyst returned to the scene a few days after the incident. The
analyst was instructed to correct the errors and retain the original case notes taken on
the day of the homicide.
The analyst failed to follow the instructions and instead shredded the original case
notes, a violation of HFSC policy and procedure.
The analyst was terminated on Wednesday January 24 following an internal
investigation by HFSC.
HFSC is a local government corporation that provides forensic services to the City of
Houston and other local agencies. HFSC is overseen by a Board of Directors appointed
by the Mayor of Houston and confirmed by the Houston City Council. Its management
structure is designed to be responsive to a 2009 recommendation by the National
Academy of Sciences that called for crime laboratories to be independent of law
enforcement and prosecutorial branches of government.
HFSC operates in seven forensic disciplines.
CONTACT INFORMATION:
Ramit Plushnick-Masti
Director of Communications/PIO
media@houstonforensicscience.org
http://www.houstonforensicscience.org/
713-703-4898 (cell)
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