Houston forensic analyst fired after allegedly shredding homicide case notes, officials say

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HOUSTON — The Houston Forensic Science Center has terminated a multiple media analyst accused of shredding original case notes from a homicide scene, according to a department announcement Wednesday morning.

The employee violated HFSC policy and produces by allegedly destroying the documents and was terminated on Jan. 24 following an internal investigation by HFSC, officials said.

The center reported several administrative errors had been found during a standard technical review of the former analyst’s case notes from the homicide scene. To correct the errors, the analyst returned to the scene a few days after the incident. The analyst was instructed to correct the errors and retain the original case notes taken on the day of the homicide.

The analyst failed to follow the instructions and instead shredded the original case notes, a violation of HFSC policy and procedure.

Investigators said the problem was uncovered by another member of the section who then brought it to the attention of a supervisor, indicating HFSC’s quality systems are working as intended.

“HFSC will not tolerate the potential of professional misconduct and takes seriously any mishaps that may impact a criminal investigation,” said Dr. Peter Stout, the HFSC CEO and president.

The analyst’s actions will be disclosed to the Texas Forensic Science Commission, the state oversight board, as suspected professional misconduct.  The notes pertained to one case, but HFSC will also audit all the work, more than 100 cases, the analyst completed during her nearly two years of employment with the Center.

Meanwhile, HFSC said it will redo the forensic analysis in the homicide case to ensure law enforcement and prosecutors have accurate, reliable information that will assist in their investigation.

“[HFSC] we have strong quality systems in place and we are satisfied they worked as intended in this incident,” Stout said.

HFSC has notified the Houston Police Department and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.

HFSC is a local government corporation that provides forensic services to the city of Houston and other local agencies. Its management structure is designed to be responsive to a 2009 recommendation by the National Academy of Sciences that called for crime laboratories to be independent of law enforcement and prosecutorial branches of government.