Forensic scientist fabricated evidence that sent men to jail, says judge

Henry Lee, a famed forensic scientist who has worked on numerous cases and appeared often as an expert in court, fabricated evidence in a 1989 trial that sent Ralph "Ricky" Birch and Shawn Henning to jail for killing Everett Carr, according to a ruling Friday.

A judge vacated the felony murder convictions in 2020, and the men filed a federal wrongful conviction lawsuit naming Lee, eight police investigators and the town of New Milford. The ruling Friday sends the case against the police and the town to trial. In granting a motion for summary judgement against Lee, the only outstanding issue for a jury in his case will be the amount of damages.

No forensic evidence linked Birch and Henning to the crime other than a "bloody towel". But later tests proved the substance on the towel wasn't blood, implying that Lee did not test it as he had claimed.U.S. District Judge Victor Bolden:

"Other than stating that he performed the test, however, the record contains no evidence that any such test was performed," the judge wrote. "In fact, as plaintiffs noted, Dr. Lee's own experts concluded that there is no 'written documentation or photographic' evidence that Dr. Lee performed the TMB blood test. And there is evidence in this record that the tests actually conducted did not indicate the presence of blood."

The judge also ruled that Lee failed to properly use an immunity defense that could have shielded him from damages and was no longer eligible to use that argument.

Lee's work includes the JonBenét Ramsey case; the Spector case; Connecticut's first murder conviction with no body; the O. J. Simpson case; and many others. It's long been speculated that he botched much of his work.

I can't help but wonder if this guy is a scapegoat for deeper problems with forensic evidence at trial. A lot of it should get more skepticism than it does, notwithstanding the scope for contrarian nonsense that invites.