Alleged misconduct at state crime lab could challenge hundreds of drug convictions

Alleged misconduct at state crime lab could challenge hundreds of drug convictions

BOISE -- The Idaho State Police crime lab plays an important role in hundreds of criminal cases ranging from small crimes to dangerous felonies.

But something has come up that puts the credibility of some lab employees in jeopardy.

Based on alleged misconduct, nearly one thousand people convicted of crimes in Idaho could have reason to challenge their conviction.

Over 800 notification letters have already been sent out.

The state public defender s office had to go through its database and notify everyone who had evidence at the lab between January 2003 and June of 2011.

That is the range of dates, Idaho State Police tells them, that misconduct may have occurred at its forensics lab.

KTVB has limited information on what exactly happened. The information we have comes from 3 memos sent by Idaho State Police to attorneys. In all likelihood not a great number of cases could be impacted but theoretically there could be one, said attorney David Leroy.

A memo from the Idaho State Police to attorneys accuses one of its forensic scientists, Skyler Anderson, of keeping an unauthorized amount of an unidentified controlled narcotic.

The memo says he and others intentionally hid the drugs from auditors to avoid detection and Anderson did so on at least four occasions.

A second memo says Anderson told another lab manager, Shannon Larson, that there was a box of drugs used for show and tell, and that the drugs weren't tracked.

Larson asked a woman named Lamora Lewis to find it, and Lewis did. The memo says she climbed up on a bench, lifted ceiling tiles and pulled out a box of drugs.

Lewis later admit she should have said something.

Both of those alleged events happened this February.

The final memo that we know of is from a 2003 incident. It says an ISP scientist ordered GHB- a drug often mixed in drinks and used by teens at raves.

It alleges the scientist ordered more GHB than what was allowed, and then hid it on the shelf of an evidence vault.

What the memos mean for criminal cases is unknown, but its likely criminal attorneys will be reviewing their cases.

This is a notice to every attorney and every attorney who handled a criminal case during the last few years or months to take a look at whether these specific issues and these specific people might have somehow theoretically altered the results of a criminal case, said Boise attorney David Leroy.

Leroy says if any of these ISP lab employees were witnesses in cases it's possible their credibility could be challenged.

If someone can prove any combination of these people or these facts likely would have caused this jury if the truth were known and presented to reach a different result in their case then a conviction could be overturned, Leroy said.

The Idaho State Appellate Public Defender's office handled hundreds of cases that had some kind of evidence handled by the labs from 2003 to this May.

That office sent letters of its own to former clients.

So any of the clients that were convicted of drugs offenses and the drugs were tested or DUIs where they had blood that was tested, said Idaho State Appellate Public Defender Molly Huskey. We sent it to any of the clients who may have had evidence that went through the state lab during that time.

The memo does not mean someone has a reason to overturn their conviction. It's just a heads up that there were some possible problems at the state police forensics lab.

Last month, the Idaho State Police said it placed three employees on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation.

KTVB left messages Wednesday to get an update on that investigation, but no one called back.

Last month, ISP also said the allegations against the employees were not criminal, rather violations of policy and standard procedure.

The Idaho State Police has several forensic labs around the state.

It's unclear which locations were involved in the misconduct allegations.


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