Forensic Expert under Criminal Investigation

By Heffern, Rich | National Catholic Reporter, May 11, 2001 | Go to article overview

Forensic Expert under Criminal Investigation


Heffern, Rich, National Catholic Reporter


Her testimony figured into 23 capital cases on Oklahoma

Prosecuting attorneys in Oklahoma City relied on Joyce Gilchrist's scientific testimony for 13 years to fortify their cases. Now she is being investigated and may face criminal charges. A police laboratory forensic expert, Gilchrist was involved in more than 3,000 cases, some of them involving the death penalty, including that of Mark David Fowler, a Catholic who was executed despite the pleas of both Oklahoma bishops (NCR, Jan. 19).

Gilchrist is the subject of an investigation ordered by Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating. The governor on April 30 called for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to review all criminal convictions in which the police chemist had conducted forensic tests and provided testimony.

Keating called on his state agency to review every capital and non-capital case "that this woman [Gilchrist] touched to make sure every case is a case of integrity and every conviction was righteous and legally and scientifically sound." Keating said the issue involved not only convicts on death row but also non-capital cases in which people have been in prison for as long as 10 or 15 years. "The possibility that an innocent person has spent years in prison as a result of a wrongful conviction is "completely, utterly, irredeemingly unacceptable," Keating said. "If that is the case, it is a horror."

Gilchrist's credibility was denounced last month by a Federal Bureau of Investigation report, which found that she had given improper courtroom testimony or wrongly identified evidence in at least five of eight cases the agency has reviewed so far.

The case that prompted the investigation involved a man convicted of rape 16 years ago after Gilchrist, using hair samples, linked him to the crime. Recent DNA testing determined that semen taken from the crime scene did not match the man's. The FBI report also challenged her findings on the hair. Officials say the convict, Jeffrey Pierce, could soon be released.

It was Gilchrist's hair analysis that put Mark Fowler at the scene of the murder for which he was executed in January.

The American Civil Liberties Union has joined in calls for an investigation into Gilchrist's role in criminal trials. The FBI is conducting a further investigation into her activities and testimony.

Gov. Keating did not move to postpone the execution of Marilyn Plantz on May 1 despite a news report that Gilchrist had provided testimony during her trial. Keating noted that Plantz had admitted her involvement in the 1988 murder of her husband.

But James Bednar, executive director of the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System, quoted in a New York Times article May 2, said there is no basis "at this point" to believe that anyone has been wrongfully executed because of Gilchrist's testimony. But he said the investigation is long overdue and reflects systemic problems in the Oklahoma criminal justice system. His organization has asked the state legislature for $1 million to look into each case where Gilchrist provided testimony or handled evidence.

"For 25 years, people have been testifying with a degree of certainty that did not exist," Bednar said. "Ms. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Forensic Expert under Criminal Investigation
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.