Forensic Toxicology: Hair Analyis & Comparison

Darwin overson at uswest.net
Fri Mar 22 22:33:32 EST 2002

I hope I have interpreted the scope of discussion for this group correctly.  I am faced with a particularly sticky forensic situation.  

The situation developed in June 2001 when the sheriff served a warrant on my client and took blood, urine and hair samples.  The blood and urine were tested almost immediately for meth and other substances and they came back negative for all.  For nine months the District Attorneys Office represented that the hair was out being tested and that the results were simply not completed.  Turns out, the hair was sitting in an evidence locker the whole time.  When it came to the Dist. Att.'s attention that we were aware of this, they sent the sample to California and had it tested.  The Dist. Att. admits that prior to being sent, the sample was handled by the investigating detective in the evidence room.  They claim he held the envelope up to the light to determine its contents due to the need to find out how much hair was involved.  That contact, however, does not appear in the logs.  
    So, the results come back and they are positive for meth.  I contacted the toxicologist who performed the testing and he indicated that the entire sample was consumed in testing.  No fluids were saved, nothing.  Turns out, there was a single strand of hair left behind in the envelope.  
    We believe that is not our client's hair or it has been contaminated.  From what I can tell there are several choices:  DNA analysis, microscopic comparison, and possibly testing for meth.  The last option appears to be slim since the work being done on single hairs does not seem to be widely accepted and thus, would be difficult to get any results admitted into court.  Any ideas?  
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