Report: 'Star' DNA Scientist Manipulated Evidence

Colorado probe into work of Yvonne 'Missy' Woods says her manipulation affected at least 652 cases
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 11, 2024 8:37 AM CDT
Report: 'Star' DNA Scientist Manipulated Evidence: Report
Yvonne Woods is seen during her testimony at the James Whitler murder trail in Fort Collins, Colorado, on May 6, 2009.   (V. Richard Haro/The Coloradoan via AP, File)

An esteemed analyst known as "Colorado's star DNA scientist" purposely manipulated evidence for years, involving hundreds (if not more) of the cases she worked on and putting the spotlight on her entire career, according to an investigation. According to a report released Friday by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, Yvonne "Missy" Woods' finagling of DNA test results affected at least 652 cases under her purview between 2008 and 2023, though more could come to light as investigators keep looking back through her life's work, reports the Wall Street Journal. The paper notes that some experts say the scandal "could potentially be one of the largest in the history of forensic DNA testing."

  • The allegations: Woods, who was with the state's crime lab for nearly three decades, isn't accused of making up DNA profiles or lying about matches. Rather, the report claims she "omitted material facts in records, tampered with DNA testing results, and violated a variety of lab policies, including quality-control measures," per the Journal.
  • CBI's take: "This discovery puts all of her work in question," the agency notes in a statement, per CNN. The CBI alleges that Woods—who retired in November, two months after the CBI became aware that something was amiss, and one month after she was placed on administrative leave—"deviated from standard testing protocols and cut corners," adding that it's still reviewing more of Woods' work, stretching back to 1994. It also says it has brought in "third-party investigative resources to protect the integrity of the inquiry."
  • Legal team's reaction: "Ms. Woods will continue to cooperate to preserve the integrity of her work that resulted in true and just criminal justice findings," her attorney, Ryan Brackley, said after the CBI report was released, per the AP. He added that his client "has long maintained that she's never created or falsely reported any inculpatory DNA matches or exclusions, nor has she testified falsely in any hearing or trial resulting in a false conviction or unjust imprisonment."
  • Complaint: At least one prisoner is going after Woods' analysis, however. James Hunter, 64, is suing, claiming he was wrongfully convicted for a 2002 burglary and sexual assault partly based on evidence analyzed by Woods.
(More DNA analysis stories.)

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