Medical Examiner Henry Lee, known for his expert testimony in high-profile criminal cases including the OJ Simpson murder trial and the JonBenet Ramsey case, was found guilty of fabricating evidence that led to a wrongful murder conviction.
Ralph “Ricky” Birch and Shawn Henning were sent to prison for decades for the murder of 65-year-old Everett Carr, who was stabbed 27 times in December 1985.
Their convictions were based in part on Lee’s testimony regarding bloodstains found at the victim’s home. But in 2020, new information about the stains came to light and a judge overturned the murder convictions.
A Connecticut federal judge found Lee liable on Friday for his role in the wrongful conviction after tests proved stains identified as blood on a towel were not blood, the Hartford Courant reported.
Judge Victor Bolden wrote that Lee did not provide evidence to support his testimony about forensic tests which he said showed the stains were blood.
“Dr. Lee’s own experts concluded that there was no ‘written documentation or photographic evidence’ that Lee performed any particular scientific blood test on a towel, Bolden said.
“And there is evidence in this case that the tests actually performed did not indicate the presence of blood,” the judge added.
Bolden’s decision could make Lee liable for millions of dollars in damages in upcoming court hearings. Having been found responsible for fabrications, the main question that remains in his case is how much he should pay.
Other defendants in the case — including the city of New Milford, Conn., as well as police officers and officials — can stand trial on the facts of the case, Bolden said.
Lee, 84, is a professor emeritus at the Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences at the University of New Haven, which bears his name.
When Birch and Henning’s murder convictions were overturned in 2020, Lee defended his reputation.
“In my 57-year career, I have investigated over 8,000 cases and have never been accused of wrongdoing or intentionally false testimony,” he told reporters. “This is the first case I have to defend myself.”
Birch, who spent more than 30 years behind bars, was released in 2019 after a judge ordered a new trial. Henning, who was 17 at the time of the crime, was given probation in 2018.
Although both men admitted to committing burglaries in the area where the murder took place, they have always maintained that they had no involvement in Carr’s death.
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