Report: FBI Overstated Forensic Evidence In More Than 200 Trials

According to a new report by The Washington Post, the FBI has admitted its examiners gave misleading testimony about forensic hair matches for over two decades, overstating evidence to aid prosecutors in at least 257 criminal trials.

32 of those trials resulted in death sentences and 14 defendants were either executed or died in prison.

The findings came out today as part of a sweeping review of the FBI Laboratory’s questionable practices prior to 2000. From The Post:

Federal authorities launched the investigation in 2012 after The Washington Post reported that flawed forensic hair matches might have led to the convictions of hundreds of potentially innocent people since at least the 1970s, typically for murder, rape and other violent crimes nationwide.

The review confirmed that FBI experts systematically testified to the near-certainty of “matches” of crime-scene hairs to defendants, backing their claims by citing incomplete or misleading statistics drawn from their case work.

For the last 15 years, the FBI has reportedly only used hair analysis to rule out suspects or in conjunction with DNA evidence.

Of the 268 hair match trials examined so far, over 95 percent were found to have included flawed FBI testimony. Approximately 1,200 more cases have not yet been reviewed.