By: John Monk
The Columbia Police Department has shut down its drug lab after an investigation found an analyst in the lab was not properly trained and her handling and analysis of drugs seized in criminal investigations were likely flawed.
That analyst – who apparently isn’t qualified to do expert drug scientific analysis – has testified and provided evidence for criminal court cases in recent years and therefore those cases may be compromised, 5th Circuit Solicitor Dan Johnson said Saturday.
On Friday, Johnson notified numerous attorneys who are members of the Midlands Bar that drug evidence in cases handled by Columbia police drug analyst Brenda Frazier was potentially flawed. These cases include crack cocaine and marijuana charges, Johnson indicated.
Johnson, who oversees cases in the 5th Circuit’s Richland and Kershaw counties, didn’t know how many cases there were in which Frazier had testified or had vouched for evidence.
“That’s one of the things we are working to determine,” he said. He said he didn’t think the number was particularly high. Frazier conducted analyses in 2012, 2013 and the first few months of 2014, he said.
Frazier’s flawed findings might have caused defendants to be wrongly sent to prison, a local defense lawyer said Saturday.
“This analyst testified in court, and juries rely on that testimony,” said Jack Duncan, former president of the S.C. Defense Lawyers Association. “This could be anybody’s son or daughter wrongly sent to prison.”
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