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Oklahoma authorities have begun reviewing 1,450 cases involving an Oklahoma City police chemist whose work and testimony the FBI criticized as faulty. A defendant in one of chemist Joyce Gilchrist’s cases was recently exonerated by DNA testing and released after 15 years in prison for rape. At the request of the Oklahoma City police, the FBI studied eight of her cases and found that in at least five of them she had made errors involving identification of evidence or that she had overstated the certainty of the match of the defendant’s hair with the offender’s. The report prompted the Oklahoma governor to call for an investigation of all of her cases. The police have found 1,694 case files dating to 1980, when she started working in the lab, said Kym Koch, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. Some involve fiber evidence, but “at this point it’s the hair analysis that’s of concern,” Koch said. Hair analysis, made obsolete by DNA testing, can determine only if two samples are consistent, inconsistent or inconclusive, Koch said. LONG WEEKS SPENT STUDYING FILES Five senior criminalists are working 64-hour weeks to study the files. Each case is being reviewed by two team members, Koch said. They are examining Gilchrist’s testing procedures and determining whether she testified beyond the limitations of the science. The attorney general and the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System are studying transcripts and the evidence to weigh the need for retesting and the importance of Gilchrist’s testimony. The Legislature is considering paying $750,000 for tests at private labs, said Indigent Defense Executive Director James Bednar. That won’t be enough, he added.

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