Thursday, April 23, 2015

Jeffrey Ferguson: FBI overstated hair match crisis (The Emperor's clothes); (7) Missouri man was executed after faulty hair testimony; St. Louis Post Dispatch;

PHOTO CAPTION:  "Jeffrey Ferguson, was sentenced to death in 1995 for the 1989 murder of 17-year-old Kelli Hall."

GIST: "The Missouri man executed after a trial that included overstated FBI hair comparisons was Jeffrey Ferguson, who was convicted in St. Louis County, according to documents obtained Wednesday by the Post-Dispatch. But the prosecutor who handled Ferguson’s two murder trials said that the flawed analysis would not have made any difference in his conviction for the murder of Kelli Hall in 1989. Ferguson, 59, of Jefferson County, was executed on March 26, 2014. The FBI, Justice Department, Innocence Project and National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers announced over the weekend that FBI analysts misstated the certainty of incriminating hair comparisons in 268 trials prior to 2000. The Innocence Project said Tuesday without giving details that six were in Missouri, including one involving a defendant later executed, and four in Illinois. The organization did not say whether any cases had rested solely on the hair evidence. Asked if the revelation cast doubt on Ferguson’s conviction, prosecutor Tom Dittmeier said, “Absolutely not.” Dittmeier, now a federal prosecutor, said that among the evidence were DNA, an eyewitness who saw Hall get into an SUV matching the description of Ferguson’s, and a determination that Ferguson possessed Hall’s stolen rings within hours of the murder.........Documents from the Missouri State Public Defender’s Office showed the condemned man at issue was Ferguson. They said that the FBI analyst, Michael Malone, made several errors in the cases against Ferguson and co-defendant Kenneth Ousley. Malone “exceeded the limits of science” in claiming the hair “could be associated with a specific individual to the exclusion of all others,” the office’s documents say. They also say Malone erred in assigning a statistical probability to his claim and in citing the number of other comparisons performed to bolster his conclusion. The FBI results were presented to St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch’s office in a letter dated Aug. 20, 2013. “We ask that you determine the actions your office should take in light of this error,” the letter says. Michael Barrett, general counsel of the State Public Defender System, said in an email that neither the Missouri Supreme Court nor the federal courts would give Ferguson a hearing on the hair analysis “despite the letter from the FBI.” The appeal says the FBI was aware of allegations concerning Malone years before Ferguson’s trial. Barrett’s office appealed the case citing concerns over the hair analysis issue in 1997, after a Justice Department Office of Inspector General report said Malone “falsely testified” and testified outside his area of expertise in another case. That appeal was also rejected."

The entire story can be  found at:


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