DENVER (CBS4)– Criminal cases in Denver tossed out of court because of problems with DNA testing had time to impact the lives of those accused.
One adult and two juveniles pleaded guilty to crimes they didn’t commit, although they were apparently involved in other burglaries.
Another man was deported after he was wrongly linked to a pot shop break-in.
In that case, burglars entered the marijuana dispensary at night through the back door. They stole cash, pot and drank some liquor. The DNA came from saliva on the bottles.
That sample was sent to the Denver Police Crime Lab for testing. It came back linked to Silverio Wilber who was already in prison for another burglary case.
But problems with the DNA testing machine led tot he wrong man.
“It was not human error, it was an error on the part of the instructions we were given by the manufacturer of the equipment that tests and processes DNA,” said Denver Police Lt. Matt Murray.
The machine had frozen when testing the results in 2011. The samples were put back in the wrong order.
Another burglary happened in West Denver in 2010. Someone removed two TVs found in an alley and urinated in the snow.
The DNA was also tested with the same machine resulting in charges against the wrong man. Robert Minich ended up pleading guilty. That case will be dismissed.
“The defendants in these cases did in face leave DNA at some crime scene. That’s not an indication of guilt but it’s important for people to understand that all were associated with some criminal case and that the evidence was just transposed and put in with the wrong criminal case,” said Murray.
Another case involved two juveniles. Their charges are being dismissed. An adult already in prison will be charged.
Both the Denver Police and the Denver District Attorney have said they take this situation very seriously and have moved quickly with reparations.
It does not appear anyone was wrongly incarcerated as a result of the DNA errors.