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The Journal Gazette

Friday, November 04, 2016 10:00 pm

Ohio questions credibility

Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio Innocence Project, the state public defender and a law clinic have formed a task force to review cases involving a longtime forensic scientist at the state crime lab whose credibility has been questioned.

G. Michele Yezzo denies allegations that she was biased in favor of police or prosecutors and says she didn’t manipulate evidence, the Columbus Dispatch reported Friday.

“I bent over backwards to try and find out whatever evidence was there, and that’s the best I can tell you,” Yezzo said.

“I testified to the results, not to try and make any points with anybody,” he added.

Lawyers with the Ohio Innocence Project began questioning Yezzo’s work last year.

The task force plans to review thousands of Yezzo’s cases. Ohio Public Defender Timothy Young’s office and the Ohio Innocence Project, based at the University of Cincinnati College of Law, will work together with the Milton A. Kramer Law Clinic Center at the Case Western Reserve University Law School.

Yezzo, of West Jefferson, worked for the attorney general’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation for three decades before resigning in 2009 after an internal investigation found issues with her work.

Former colleagues have accused her of bias, and her personnel files show concerns about her credibility and some past behavior problems, such as outbursts and threats against co-workers.

Attorney General Mike DeWine said his office has since reviewed some of Yezzo’s evidence-analysis work and found it “credible.” But he also indicated that if Yezzo’s background had been brought up in court while she worked for the bureau, cases might have been affected.

“I think a defense lawyer certainly would’ve been able to do some very good cross examination based on that (information),” he said.

Now defense attorneys question whether court cases might have ended differently if lawyers had known Yezzo’s work issues.