Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Head of DNA lab in lacrosse case loses job

November 12, 2007

By Anne Blythe, The News & Observer

Brian Meehan, head of the private lab that did DNA testing for Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong in the Duke lacrosse case, is out of a job.

Reached at his home in Elon this afternoon, Meehan confirmed that he no longer worked for DNA Security in Burlington.

But he declined to elaborate further. “I’ll be able to say more in two days,” Meehan said.

In May 2006, two months after the off-campus Duke lacrosse team party that gave rise to an escort service dancer’s gang-rape accusations against three players, Meehan produced a 12-page lab report that excluded information about the presence of DNA of unidentified men found on the body and clothing of the accuser.

That omission of crucial evidence helped lead to the downfall of Nifong, the district attorney who lost his law license and career over his zeal to prosecute the players on allegations that proved to be untrue.

State Attorney General Roy Cooper exonerated the three players in April, nearly 13 months after the allegations arose.

During numerous hearings before that, Nifong failed to divulge the information about the presence of DNA not belonging to the lacrosse players.

It was not until last November that Brad Bannon, a defense lawyer for one of the accused players, discovered the details while poring over 1,844 pages of raw data from DNA Security.

At a court hearing in December, Meehan testified that he and Nifong had agreed to what he would include in the 12-page report in May. That report did not meet the standards and protocol of DNA Security, a company that Meehan helped found.

It was unclear today whether Meehan’s absence from DNA Security would have any bearing on a lawsuit filed by the three exonerated players againt the lab director, his lab, the city, Nifong and numerous police department employees.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Greensboro, charges that the defendants maliciously conspired to charge the three men with rape, even though they knew that charges were “a total fabrication by a mentally troubled, drug-prone exotic dancer whose claims, time and again, were contradicted by physical evidence, documentary evidence, other witnesses, and even the accuser herself.”

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