Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Crime Lab Chief Exonerated By One Question

I wrote previously about the Douglas County Crime lab chief who found blood matching a defendant's DNA in a car belonging to the murder victim. As I wrote then,

Case closed, right? How is the defense lawyer going to demonstrate that the DNA isn't the smoking gun, in other words?

The only problem for Commander Kofoed was that shortly thereafter, two Wisconsin teens were arrested for the murder and a large amount of DNA evidence was once again found in their vehicle

As I said before, the stunning part of the investigation involved this description of Kofoed's explanation regarding the blood:

Kofoed could not be reached for comment Tuesday but has said previously that the microscopic amount of blood found in the Sampson car argued against the cousins being involved. Had they played a role in the slayings, he said, there would have been much more physical evidence in the car.

In past interviews, Kofoed said he searched Sampson's car a second time on his own initiative because the other outside law enforcement officials insisted it was the getaway vehicle, even though his lab's initial forensics probe indicated otherwise.

Let's go over that again:
(1) The prosecutors and the police develop a theory that the dead couple were killed by a relative and arrest two, slow-witted cousins.
(2) After initial crime lab tech find no evidence to substantiate this theory, the Crime Lab Chief is brought in for a new search.
(3) Amazingly, a drop of blood matching the suspect is found in the car.
(4) Other people are later implicated in the crime and DNA evidence ties them to it.
(5) The Crime Lab Chief then claims that the relatively small amount of DNA found by him actually is exculpatory and likely the result of an officer's inadvertent contamination.

I'm sure that's what he would have said if the later arrests weren't made, don't you think?

Right before a busy holiday weekend, the results of a polygraph are revealed and the Crime Lab Chief is cleared of wrongdoing:
As the World Herald describes it:

The commander of the Douglas County crime lab has been cleared of wrongdoing in connection with a murder investigation near Murdock, Neb.

David Kofoed will return to work Monday, said Marty Bilek, chief deputy sheriff. He was placed on paid suspension June 10.

Kofoed voluntarily submitted to a polygraph examination Wednesday. Sheriff's investigators John Pankonin and Brenda Wheeler reviewed Kofoed's responses and determined that he was truthful in his answers, Bilek said today.

Kofoed was asked if he planted any blood evidence in the investigation of the killings of Wayne and Sharmon Stock and if he knew of anyone who did.

In both instances, Kofoed said "no." The polygraph results were reviewed by two examiners to determine their reliability, Bilek said.

"I have had the utmost respect for David Kofoed in the past, and nothing in this investigation leads me to change that view," Sheriff Tim Dunning said. "The polygrapher confirmed that all responses were truthful."

Sounds like an objective evaluation by an independent investigator, doesn't it?


Anonymous said...

These guys are a bunch of cowboys that do whatever they want. They think they are above the law. When it comes to their own, they will do anything to cover their wrongdoing instead of taking an ethical stand and prosecuting them.

Anonymous said...

That Pankonin guy is not an ethical officer. I witnessed him lie. I also know that he was involved in evidence tampering by ommitting a page from a document that would have cleared a suspect. I know of two witnesses he interview that deny the statements attributed to him and are prepared to dispute his claims. He removed eyeglasses from a suspect and then expected them to approve a document knowing full well that could not even read the document.

Anonymous said...

John Pankonin...The same paragon of virtue and truth in The Franklin Scandal! That seals it...if Pankonin said it then it's true.

Anonymous said...

For the sake of correctness, he was the Crime Scene Investigation Chief, not the Crime Lab Chief. There is a significant difference.