CharlotteObserver: Death penalty opponents cite NC lab concerns

“How can you ever purify a system that is so contaminated to allow any kind of death sentences be pursued or carried out?” asked Carol Turowksi, co-director of the Innocence & Justice Clinic at the Wake Forest University law school. “We’re at a point where there should be a moratorium at the very least and maybe there should be some focus on should we even maintain the death penalty in a system that’s never going to be perfect.”

Turowski and others at a news conference cited evidence of racial bias in criminal sentences, particularly death penalty cases, and problems with the State Bureau of Investigation’s crime lab. Their brief in support of Melvin White, however, focuses on his claim under the state’s Racial Justice Act, which allows death row inmates to use statistics and other evidence to prove racial bias resulted in the death sentences.”

“Attorney Mark Rabil of Winston-Salem criticized the state-run crime lab, which has been under fire since February, when an SBI agent testified that analysts did not always include the complete results of blood tests on lab reports that were submitted to court. That hearing resulted in the exoneration and release of Greg Taylor, who had served almost 17 years in prison for the death of a Raleigh woman.

That testimony led to an outside review of the SBI’s blood unit that was released last week. The scathing review found that eight analysts omitted, overstated or falsely reported blood evidence in dozens of cases, including three that ended in executions and another where two men were imprisoned for killing Michael Jordan’s father.

“For years, the State Bureau of Investigation and its laboratory have tried to blind us with so-called science,” said Rabil, who represented Darryl Hunt, who was exonerated of a rape conviction in 2004. “For years, they have tried to dupe us with what they claim to be valid science when we know that truth is transparent.”

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