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After a judge, on two occasions refused to qualify the accuser as a competent witness (she had the mental capacity of a seven or eight-year-old), and the defendant refused to confess, the police took a blanket from his garage and took it to the Santa Clara County Crime Laboratory where an analyst looked for but couldn’t find any traces of semen. Later that day, San Jose detective Matthew Christian prepared a phony crime lab report in which a nonexistent DNA analyst with the lab named Rebecca Roberts identified semen on the blanket as Kerkeles’. The detective dated the report the day he seized the blanket. Since it takes months for DNA evidence to be processed, this itself revealed the document and the identification were bogus.
The comments were made by John M. Collins Jr., the Chief Managing Editor of Crime Lab Report, in a speech detailing the preliminary findings of a study titled 'The Innocence Audit' at the annual symposium of the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors (ASCLD) on Thursday, April 30, 2015. The event was held at the Wardman Park Marriott in Washington, D.C.
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Detective Christian fabricated the crime lab report as an interrogation prop, hoping that the accused, when confronted with the phony evidence, would confess. Under U.S. criminal procedural law, interrogators are allowed to present suspects with nonexistent evidence in an effort to get them to confess as long as the questioning is not coercive and does not violate the doctrine. Before the interrogation took place, Kerkeles acquired the services of an attorney which kept Detective Christian from employing his interrogation technique. The detective, without writing the word “ruse” on the phony report, placed the document into the case file. He said he forgot about it.Crime Lab Report, now in its 9th year, is an independent quarterly publication focusing on media and industry affairs in forensic science. It is edited and distributed by the Forensic Foundations Group, which is based near Lansing, Michigan. The prosecution bubble burst when, in responding to a request by the defendant’s attorney regarding the resume of the DNA analyst, attorney Seibert learned from the crime lab that Rebecca Roberts didn’t exist. In December 2006 the judge dismissed the case against Kerkeles. A year later, as reported in the , police captain Andy Galea said the department has since banned detectives from using ruse crime lab reports as interrogation props. The captain would not comment on if disciplinary action had been taken against Detective Christian. He said the matter had been submitted to a police review committee headed by another assistant district attorney (one of Stingfield’s colleagues). The committee had concluded that Detective Christian had made an honest mistake. Moreover, the in-house review board concluded that ADA Stingfield had done nothing wrong in eliciting testimony about a phony lab report even though she had a contradictory report in her possession. In an interview with the , Stingfield said she had ignored the real lab report because it didn’t help her case. She blamed Kerkeles’s defense attorney for not noting the discrepancy between the two documents.The reports, opinions, and interpretations expressed by should be corroborated with independent research before being construed as factual. While every effort is made to ensure accuracy and contextual honesty, our primary goal is to bring a perspective to the discussion of forensic science that will facilitate the creation of more useful and effective public policies. Crime Lab Report will quickly correct and/or retract any information demonstrated to be erroneous or misleading.