Colorado Bureau of Investigation finds DNA scientist manipulated data in hundreds of cases over decades

Colorado Bureau of Investigation finds DNA scientist manipulated data in hundreds of cases over decades - Crime and Courts - News

Forensic Scientist Manipulated or Omitted DNA Test Results in Over 650 CBI Cases: A Thorough Investigation and Review

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) recently discovered that a forensic scientist, Yvonne “Missy” Woods, manipulated or omitted DNA test results in more than 650 cases between the years 2008 and 2023. This concerning revelation prompted a full review of Woods’ work during her nearly 30-year career at the agency, which spanned from 1994 to 2023.

The CBI’s internal investigation concluded that Woods’ handling of DNA testing data significantly impacted 652 cases, including instances where she posted incomplete results. The agency stated that they are currently examining all her previous work from 1994 to 2008 for data manipulation, ensuring the integrity of all CBI laboratory results.

In October 2023, the CBI became aware that DNA sample testing performed by Woods might have deviated from standard operating procedures. Following this discovery, Woods was placed on administrative leave, and she did not perform any laboratory work thereafter until her retirement on November 6. A separate criminal investigation into Woods’ conduct is ongoing, with the CBI working closely with law enforcement agencies across Colorado.

According to the CBI internal investigation, conducted in collaboration with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, Woods was found to have omitted material facts in official criminal justice records. This tampering with DNA testing results and violation of various agency policies, ranging from data retention to quality control measures, came to light during the investigation. The CBI’s forensics team discovered that Woods deleted and altered data intended to conceal her tampering and failure to troubleshoot testing process issues. The agency determined that her manipulations were the result of intentional conduct.

The CBI has launched a comprehensive audit of all DNA analysts to ensure the accuracy and completeness of its entire catalog of records, as a separate case involving a DNA analyst with the Weld County Sheriff’s Office at the Northern Colorado Regional Forensic Laboratory has also come to light. The sheriff’s office fired this analyst following an internal investigation.

Boulder District Attorney Michael Dougherty mentioned that 15 open cases and 55 closed cases in which Woods has testified as a witness have been identified. The impact on victims, the accused, and their ability to do justice is being closely monitored by prosecutors around the state as they await crucial information.

The office of Colorado’s Fourth Judicial District Attorney reported that CBI had informed them of 75 potentially affected cases within their jurisdiction, with Woods not used as an expert witness in any of those cases.

A week after Woods’ resignation from CBI, attorney Mark Burton filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of his client, James Hunter, who is currently in prison. The lawsuit alleges that Hunter was wrongfully convicted based on fabricated and false evidence linked to Woods’ work.

This significant breach of trust in the forensic science community calls for thorough and transparent actions from the CBI, with public trust being vital to their mission. The agency is committed to rectifying this issue and ensuring the accuracy and integrity of its laboratory results in the future.