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08Jun_Police Review Lab Work After Suicide of Scientist

08Jun_Police Review Lab Work After Suicide of Scientist

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Police Review Lab Work After Suicide of Scientist By NICHOLAS CONFESSORE Published: June 12, 2008 New York State

Police officials are notifying district attorneys across the state that evidence in criminal cases may have been compromised by a forensic scientist who committed suicide last month after auditors discovered that he had not followed proper procedures in some cases, officials said Tuesday. The scientist, Garry Veeder, worked at the State Police crime lab for more than 30 years analyzing so-called trace evidence, such as fibers, physical material and impressions left at crime scenes. The agency is reviewing his work going back at least a decade and cannot yet say how many cases could have been compromised. But police officials and some local prosecutors said that the cases included burglaries, assaults, murders and nearly every other variety of criminal case. Mr. Veeder, 58, hanged himself in his garage on May 23. No evidence has emerged so far that Mr. Veeder issued inaccurate findings or that prosecutors relied on false evidence in a criminal trial. But the district attorneys are being notified so that they can retrieve their own files on the cases and await further information from the agency, officials said. None of the evidence in the cases reviewed has been found to be inaccurate or incorrect, but that doesn't mean that we won't find something, said Lt. Glenn Miner, a spokesman for the State Police. He wasn't following our procedures, and because he wasn't following our procedures, we need to let the district attorneys know. Lieutenant Miner said that once investigators had identified all of the cases for which Mr. Veeder had provided fiber analysis, the agency would select an outside forensic consultant to perform a technical analysis of each case. News of Mr. Veeder?s misconduct has spread rapidly through the state's trial bar, and some lawyers say they have been scouring old case files to see if Mr. Veeder provided evidence against their clients. Lisa Schreibersdorf, president of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said that the news was ?beyond troubling, in part because juries rarely question the credibility of police forensics experts. It starts making you think about all the cases where the evidence from the prosecution didn't jibe with what else you knew about the case, Ms. Schreibersdorf said. The State Police crime lab handles roughly 10,000 cases a year and provides forensic services to law enforcement officials around the state, chiefly in more rural areas where local police departments do not operate their own crime labs. The vast majority of that work involves testing illegal drugs seized during raids or arrests, Lieutenant Miner said. But Mr. Veeder was the lab's sole expert on fiber evidence, such as

on at least some cases. Veeder had provided false evidence in the case or had perjured himself. Berwick. State Police procedure requires at least two tests on fibers. . One case involved analysis of a 1999 train accident in Staten Island. though no evidence has emerged that he was a target of the investigation. including one burglary. I know all my big cases. Davis's lawyers to request a postconviction hearing. The discrepancies came to light during a routine audit by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors. handled by the state agricultural agency. Veeder also performed work on at least two cases in New York City. though State Police officials have told Mr. Neither involved evidence gleaned from suspects.. N. a police officer in New Hartford. Prosecutors in Franklin County and Chautauqua County said they received calls from the State Police on Wednesday involving two cases in each county. said Derek P. the other involved a 1996 product-tampering case in Manhattan. In some cases. because the confirming test will identify the type of fiber. One of the cases under review involves Mr. That case involved comparing fibers found in a broken display case with a glove linked by prosecutors to a suspect. who was later convicted of second-degree murder. Some crime labs view the preliminary test as superfluous and do not require it. Mr. Toussaint Davis. 48. Miner said. was said to be distraught over a separate investigation by Attorney General Andrew M. who also hanged himself. known as a relative refractive index test. Veeder's fiber analysis and testimony in the death of Joseph Corr. a cold case in which no arrests were made. But a confirming test. Veeder's death staggered an agency already reeling from the suicide of a recently retired trooper. The initial test.threads recovered from clothing at crime scenes. Mr. the Oneida County district attorney. one of several organizations in the United States that accredits crime labs. Mr. where the Police Department normally performs its own forensics work. one assault and a homicide from 1976. Mr. known as a Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy test. Veeder skipped the preliminary test and conducted only the confirming test. Gary A. who was shot and killed while pursuing suspects in a jewelry-store robbery in 2006. Lieutenant Miner said. Veeder apparently reported a result for the preliminary test based on what he had learned in the confirming test. Mr. Berwick. Cuomo into whether the State Police engaged in political espionage against elected officials. Mr. just days before. the Franklin County district attorney. McNamara. said that he expected Mr.Y. investigated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Scott D. and I don't have anything where fibers were a big deal for that. McNamara that there was no indication yet that Mr. is required to definitively identify the fiber. According to Lieutenant Miner. helps scientists narrow the type of fiber being studied. Champagne.

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