First I want to mention that my native language is Dutch and not English. I apologize for grammar mistakes. In the Netherlands, the issue for court is for the truth to come out. Justice is based on the truth. For a Dutch person, the American court system is kind of weird because of the adversarial system in the US the opposing party seems to be the enemy who must be discredited whether serving the truth or not. I have seen that in the Tim Masters Case, the David Camm case, Casey Anthony and many other cases.
Several newspapers wrote about me and television networks aired a statement by Denver District Attorney Morrissey in which he discredited me as a DNA expert. In this reaction, we will expose the fabrications in his statement.
August 29, 2016, I was going to testify in an alleged sexual case where I had reviewed DNA reports generated by the Denver police lab, the State lab (CBI) and a private company called Cellmark.
During the voire dire phase, the proposed expert is questioned by both the defense and the district attorney. The district attorney limited her questions in her cross examination to the time when I was working for the Netherlands Forensic Institute, which is from 1993 till 2005. During the re-direct by the defense attorneys, the lawyers failed to give me the opportunity to clarify my working experience since then. Normally in this phase any wrong impressions created by the DA are set straight. Not doing their job resulted in the judge rejecting me as an expert. I have testified almost 90 times and this is the first time I have been rejected as an expert witness.
The text below was used by FOX 31 on September 1 2016:
“A Denver prosecutor got Richard Eikelenboom to admit he “had no direct DNA extraction or analysis experience, that he operates a lab that has not been accredited, that he personally failed his basic proficiency tests in 2011 and 2012, and admitted that he was ‘self-trained’ in running DNA profiles,” the Denver District Attorney’s Office said in a statement Thursday.”
Richard Eikelenboom “….had no direct DNA extraction or analysis experience…”
That Denver prosecutor limited her questions to me in her cross examination to my experience at the Netherlands Forensic Institute, where I worked from 1993 till 2005. That laboratory, as most labs in Europe, performs DNA examination in an assembly line. The sample goes from one department to another:
1. DNA trace recovery
2. DNA extraction
3. DNA analysis
4. Cases coordinating
5. DNA report writing
If you worked in the DNA department at that time you could specialize in one of these steps. Other areas of expertise were bloodstain pattern analysis and crime scene investigation.
When I worked at the NFI my specialties were in DNA trace recovery, coordinating cases, bloodstain pattern analysis, crime scene investigations, reports writing and testifying about those reports in court.
At the NFI, I received training on every field of expertise but I did not work on the sub departments of DNA extraction and DNA analysis. So, it is correct that at the NFI I did not work at DNA extraction and DNA analysis units.
What makes the statement of Morrissey a fabrication?
After I left the Netherlands Forensic Institute, I joined Independent Forensic Services. This company was founded by my wife Selma and DNA expert Johanna van der Meij in 2003. We rebuilt a farm in the middle of the Netherlands into a DNA laboratory. We performed DNA examinations for law enforcement, prosecution and defense attorneys. In our lab, the DNA experts execute every part of the DNA investigation, from step 1 to step 5. Since 2005 Johanna van der Meij and myself have done thousands of DNA-extractions and analyzed thousands of DNA-profiles.
Around 2008 we had a meeting at the Office of the Attorney General where Morrissey was present. In that meeting we explained in detail how we performed the DNA investigation in which we found prove that Tim Masters was innocent. We provided full discovery to the AG’s team, including Morrissey. He was very hostile towards us, to the embarrassment of the staff of the Attorney General’s Office. The Denver District Attorney’s Office – in the person of Morrissey – knew I had “direct DNA extraction or analysis experience”. By putting out a press release and making statements to the contrary, Morrissey is deliberately casting doubt on my expertise.
“….that he operates a lab that has not been accredited….”
The standard accreditation for forensic laboratories worldwide is the ISO-17025. IFS acquired that accreditation in 2008 and held it ever since. This allows us the work internationally. The American Society of Crime Lab Directors (ASCLD) has some additional requirements, but they audit laboratories against the same ISO-17025 standard. We decided to apply for the ASCLD accreditation as well. During the trial in which the Denver prosecutor crossed me, we received the certificate of the ASCLD accreditation and presented that to the judge and the DA. The judge did not allow the certificate for this trial, but the DA had from that moment on proof that IFS has a double accreditation. We are the only lab in Europe which is in the possession of an ASCLD accreditation. The Denver police lab, that works for the DA office, does not have an ASCLD accreditation. Morrissey obviously felt the need to give a press conference based on what happened during the trial. Either his district attorney informed him about our ASCLD accreditation and he knowingly left it out, or the district attorney did not inform him and allowed her superior to make incorrect statements damaging my reputation. Both options raise serious questions about the integrity of the Denver district attorney’s office.
“…..he personally failed his basic proficiency tests in 2011 and 2012…..”
The goal of a proficiency test is to check if different labs can reach the same conclusion at the end of the DNA testing. During the testing, labs can have minor different results, due to technical issues and different procedures. That was the case in the testing I did in 2011 and 2012.
You fail the test if you reach a wrong conclusion. I reached the correct conclusions, hence I did not fail the proficiency test. Failing the test will lead to a withdrawal of our accreditation. We never lost our accreditation. Morrissey either does not understand how a proficiency test is set up, or he is deliberately trying to make us look incompetent.
But let us look at real mistakes, made by the Denver police lab:
The Denver lab was not capable of detecting their errors before the wrong people were arrested. One can only wonder how many innocent people are in jail because of the work of the Denver lab and Morrissey. It is obvious why the Denver police lab does not have an ASCLD accreditation. It is unlikely ASCLD would accept these types of errors.
I can assure you that this type of errors has never been made by me or my IFS coworkers.
“….admitted that he was ‘self-trained’ in running DNA profiles…..”
I have a degree in biochemistry which involves a large amount of DNA training. During my more than 10 years working on the Biology Department at the National Forensic Institute, I was trained in all aspects of DNA investigation. At that time, there was no educational facility where you could study to become a DNA scientist. You became a DNA scientist by on the job, in-house training.
We built our own lab. We worked closely through the years with the experts from the manufacturers where we bought our equipment. We wrote our own quality system, we validated the tests and subjected ourselves to two independent, international audits to get the personal, including myself, and the proceedings of our lab accredited. Most so-called DNA scientist do not have the opportunity to acquire that kind of in depth expertise. In that sense, we are “self-trained”, and we are proud of it.
“….He gets paid high dollars to give opinions….”
This is offensive and hypocritical. We do pro bono work worldwide. In the United States we haven’t made more than 20,000 per year for the last 5 years.
Morrissey on the other hand wanted more money even though he was already the highest paid state elected official:
“… he is a fraud….”
A fraud is a person intended to deceive others, typically by unjustifiably claiming or being credited with accomplishments or qualities.
Where is the proof that I am a fraud? Does Morrissey base his claim on the accusations put up in fabrications 1 to 5? Accusations we proved were wrong and which Morrissey knew were unjustified?
A lot of judges, people working for law enforcement and defense lawyers think different about me. In the Netherlands, I got a certificate as court appointed expert. This means that the courts can rely on your integrity and opinions. A lot of experts in the Netherlands do not hold such a certificate.
Furthermore, I was allowed by the Ontario Provincial Police to go to crime scenes and review cases. It is very unlikely a “fraud” would get this opportunity and get a thank you letter for other work.
The Denver DA’s and prosecutors from others states did an extreme amount of investigation into my background. The even contacted co-workers from more than 10 years ago at the Netherlands Forensic Institute. I have no problem with that, I have nothing to hide. On the other hand, they must have become aware that perpetrators are in jail because of DNA evidence I found and reports I wrote. They also know I am not corruptible because I worked on several miscarriages of justice in the Netherlands and was responsible for turning the verdicts around (cases like the Puttense homicide and the Deventer murder case).
Morrissey went before the cameras to try to destroy my reputation. Willingly and knowingly, he made statements about me that are untrue and can be easily proven so. It went all over the United States and we have yet to determine the extent of the damage. We are seeking legal advice and will decide the coming months whether to take legal action.
Let us look at what Morrissey is implying with his statements:
Is he suggesting that Tim Masters is guilty of the murder of Peggy Hettrick? Is he trying to defend the police work in the Masters case? Tim Masters was the first official wrongful conviction in the history of Colorado. Given the quality of the Denver District Attorney Office, especially under the leadership of Morrissey, it is unlikely that Tim Masters was the first or the only one.
The Attorney General’s office cleared Tim Masters of any wrongdoing and exonerated him completely and unconditionally. After the DNA examination of our lab proved Tim Masters innocence, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) did their own investigation and confirmed our findings. That part was left out in the statements made by Morrissey.
Morrissey upholds the public office of leading the Denver district attorneys. One would expect high integrity.
Another example is the case of Moses-El.
Moses-El was convicted of rape on partly based on a dream of the victim. The DNA rape kit, and other physical evidence, was destroyed by the police after a judge ordered testing on it. Morrissey saw no reason to reopen the case. Years later after public outcry, instead of releasing the man Morrissey spend tax payers’ money on retrying this case and gets slapped in the face by a jury’s “innocent verdict”.
Finally let’s have a look at the JonBenet Ramsey case, Morrissey apparently wanted to indict the father and the mother.
There is one problem however, in that his own Denver police lab did find DNA of at least one unknown male inside the panties of JonBenet. A profile that does not match the parents. But that did not stop Morrissey to try to indict the parents.
BODE technology, a private lab, made things worse for Morrissey because they confirm the results from the Denver lab. They took two samples from the long-johns which Jon Benet was wearing. These samples were not taken at random but from the sides where a perpetrator could have pulled them down. If you find an indication of the same unknown male on a girl of 6 that has been raped, you want to know who that is, before you starting an indictment of the parents. We analyzed the case for A&E and came up with ideas how to solve the case.
The only way for this exculpatory DNA to go away is if huge mistakes were made by either the Denver lab and/or CBI. These mistakes could be a contamination combined with the inability to detect such a mistake. If this is the case, the lab at fault could lose its accreditation.
I think Morrissey has felt threated by my work from the beginning. The Attorney General asked IFS to investigate the Peggy Hettrick case after the release of Tim Masters, not the Denver Police Lab. We advised the Boulder DA how to do the trace recovery on the clothing of JonBenet and the profile of the unknown male was where we said it might be.
In another case, we have been investigating evidence and generated profiles for law enforcement. The Denver Police Lab refused to compare our results with possible suspects.
Morrissey is just shooting the messenger of ill news.
This is to be continued……