Faulty Lab Report May Buy Death Row Inmate New Trial

It's good news for death row inmate Charles Raby - and more bad news for Joseph Chu. The former Houston crime lab analyst has taken a beating in the Michael Bromwich reports, which determined that, among other things, the lab had manipulated results to help with convictions. And it seems that in the case of Raby, who was convicted in 1994 of brutally murdering a grandmother, Chu did exactly that. Back in April, Raby's DNA challenge, which has been going on more than six years, was postponed yet again pending an outside expert's look into Chu's blood-typing work in the original trial. Chu had found two separate blood types under the victim's fingernails, and they belonged to neither Raby nor the victim. Yet Chu simply listed the results as inconclusive. The report came in last week. In her conclusion, Patricia P. Hamby, the outside expert, states that Chu's "inconclusive" reporting "is contrary to and not supported by the recorded laboratory test results for the left and right fingernail samples." According to Raby's lawyer, Sarah Frazier, "She essentially said that he lied about it on the stand." The narrow scope of DNA challenges might lead the judge to an unfavorable finding all the same; the DNA results came to the same conclusion as Chu's original blood tests. But Frazier's intention all along has been to help her case in filing a habeas corpus writ down the line, which would win Raby a new trial. And this may bring her one important step closer to that. "We have new evidence, and it's a whole new landscape," Frazier says. Lynn Hardaway, who's handling the case for the Harris County District Attorney's office, tells Hair Balls she has some questions for Hamby but hasn't been able to reach her yet. She'll be able to comment once she does, and we'll provide an update. It's worth noting that even if Frazier wins her new trial, she'll have considerable barriers to overcome - starting with Raby's confession.

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