New North Carolina State Crime Lab director appointed

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ByEd Crump via WTVD logo
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
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The State Crime Laboratory will get a new leader following a national search.

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper announced Wednesday that the State Crime Laboratory will get a new leader following a national search.

The State Crime Lab analyzes crime scene evidence including digital evidence, drugs, DNA, firearms, fingerprints, hair and fibers.

Cooper's choice already works at the lab. John Byrd is currently a forensic scientist manager at the facility with 20 years of experience in forensic biology.

"Quality forensic analysis is more important than ever for solving crimes and ensuring justice," Cooper said in a news release. "I expect John Byrd to make sure that North Carolina's Crime Lab continues to meet the highest standards and use the latest science to pinpoint criminals and clear suspects."

The crime lab, which is part of the State Bureau of Investigation, came under fire in 2010 when a report by independent investigators found that SBI agents helped prosecutors obtain convictions over a 16-year period by misrepresenting blood evidence and keeping critical notes from defense lawyers.

Problems at the lab led to a new trial for Durham novelist Michael Peterson - who was convicted in 2003 of the 2001 killing of his wife.

An SBI agent also admitted he withheld blood evidence at the trial of Greg Taylor - who spent 17 years in prison for the murder of a Raleigh woman before he was finally exonerated.

Byrd succeeds Joseph R. John, a retired appellate and trial court judge, who served as acting and then permanent director of the Crime Lab for three and a half years.

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