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Denver Crime Lab Error Linked Evidence To Wrong Crimes

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Investigator Rick Sallinger

DENVER (CBS4) – An error at the Denver Police Crime Lab linked the wrong DNA evidence to the wrong crimes.

The Denver District Attorney’s Office said burglary charges against two adults and two juveniles were dropped as a result of a DNA mix-up that occurred in the lab.

Something went wrong with a robotic DNA testing machine. On June 13, 2011 the machine froze.

Denver Police Lt. Matt Murray says the samples that returned to the trays were placed in the wrong order.

“So evidence from one case became tied to another case is what happened,” said Murray.

Accurate DNA results can link saliva or other human markers found at a crime scene to a person whose DNA information has been stored in a database or in custody.

A second breakdown of the machine happened in November of last year. After that it was determined the samples had not been properly replaced in the trays in the first incident.

“We have often said and do believe we have a world class crime lab and we also know that the citizens of Denver expect nothing from the best from us,” said Murray.

“DNA as a science is highly reliable but what we need to recognize that there are humans in the process and humans do make mistakes,” said Dr. Phillip Danielson, an expert in forensic DNA analysis at the University of Denver.

It’s still not clear why the samples were mixed up.

There were 24 of them from 11 different burglary cases.

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