Saturday, December 20, 2008

FBI examiner Kathleen Lundy - in how many Florida cases did she testify?

From attached report:

As part of her job responsibilities, Kathleen Lundy, an FBI
examiner, performed comparative bullet lead analysis (“CBLA”), a
process that compares trace chemicals found in bullets at crime scenes
with ammunition found in the possession of a suspect.254 For over
thirty years, FBI experts had testified about bullet lead composition, a
technique that was first used in the investigation into President
Kennedy’s assassination.255 The technique was not seriously
challenged until a retired FBI examiner, William Tobin, began
questioning the procedure in scientific and legal journals,256 as well
in-court testimony.257

In Ragland v. Commonwealth,258 a Kentucky murder case, Lundy
got herself in trouble while testifying at a pretrial admissibility
hearing.259 She stated that the elemental composition of a .243 caliber
bullet fragment removed from the victim’s body was “analytically
indistinguishable” from bullets found at the home of the defendant’s
parents.260 Lundy further testified that the Winchester Company
purchased its bullet lead in block form prior to 1996 and then
remelted it at its manufacturing plant.261 During cross-examination at
trial, however, Lundy admitted that she knew prior to the hearing
that Winchester had purchased its lead in billet form in 1994.262 This
was not a minor point. Millions more bullets could have the same
“source” if they were last melted by a secondary smelter instead of by
Winchester.263 Lundy subsequently admitted to her superiors that she
had lied,264 and on June 17, 2003, she pleaded guilty to testifying
falsely and was sentenced to a suspended ninety-day jail sentence and
a $250 fine.265

The underlying problems with CBLA went beyond Lundy’s
prevarication. Although CBLA evidence had been used in trials for
over three decades, few studies had been published on the
technique.266 Nevertheless, until recently, the courts admitted this
evidence. The published cases reveal a wide variety of interpretive
conclusions. In some cases, experts testified only that two exhibits
were “analytically indistinguishable.”267 In other cases, experts
concluded that samples could have come from the same source or
“batch”268; in still others, experts stated that the samples came from
the same source.269 The testimony in a number of cases went further
and referred to a “box” of ammunition (usually fifty loaded
cartridges, sometimes twenty). For example, two specimens:

• could have come from the same box270;
• could have come from the same box or a box
manufactured on the same day271;
• were consistent with their having come from the same
box of ammunition272;
• probably came from the same box273;
• must have come from the same box or from another box
that would have been made by the same company on
the same day.274

Several other (and different) statements appear in the opinions.
An early case reported that the specimens “had come from the same
batch of ammunition: they had been made by the same manufacturer
on the same day and at the same hour.”275 One case reports the
expert’s conclusion with a statistic.276 In another case, the court
discussed the expert’s testimony using the expressions “such a finding
is rare”277 and “a very rare finding.”278 In still another case, the
“opined that the same company produced the bullets at the same
time, using the same lead source. Based upon Department of Justice
records, she opined that an overseas company called PMC produced
the bullets around 1982.”279 Thus, FBI experts ignored the limitations
of the technique in many cases. Further, as these cases demonstrate,
the testimony was not consistent among the Bureau’s own experts,
suggesting that the FBI was not monitoring the trial testimony.

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