North Carolina's crime lab has found dozens more cases of mishandled blood evidence, adding to an already extensive review of years-old files, officials said Tuesday.
The State Bureau of Investigation said it found the 74 cases after staff hand-reviewed documents from the 1990s. The files will be referred to local prosecutors to determine whether they include any improper convictions, and the SBI is continuing an internal review.
An external examination of crime lab operations last year flagged an initial batch of more than 200 cases in which blood evidence was omitted, overstated or falsely reported.
District attorneys said Tuesday they have reviewed all the cases in which someone was convicted _ about 150 in all _ and concluded that each one was supported by other evidence, such as a confession, eyewitness testimony and ballistics.
"There was additional overwhelming evidence in every one of them," said Peg Dorer, executive director of the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys.
Defense attorneys questioned the reliability of the review led by prosecutors. Diane Savage, a lawyer who has focused on crime lab issues for years, said prosecutors can't know how a jury would respond if it learned about improperly handled evidence. And she noted that confessions and eyewitness testimony aren't always reliable.
"To me it seems like a complete whitewash," Savage said.
The case that triggered the SBI review in the first place was based in part on the mishandled blood evidence and unreliable eyewitness testimony. Greg Taylor was exonerated last year after being wrongly imprisoned nearly 17 years for a murder conviction.
During Taylor's innocence hearing, an SBI agent testified that agents were told to write in lab reports that evidence gave chemical indications for the presence of blood when the first test for blood came back positive. Agent Duane Deaver said agents were told to use that language even when a follow-up test was negative.
Deaver is linked to the five most egregious violations of blood evidence handling, and last year's SBI audit accused him of overstating or falsely reporting test results.