Results in thousands of DUI cases in Tennessee may be in jeopardy after a former Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agent mixed up the results of two blood alcohol samples.
Hamilton County attorney Jerry Summers said he noticed a discrepancy in one of his client's tests involving a vehicular homicide case and brought it to the TBI's attention. He said the results were three times the legal driving limit of 0.08, and that was off from an independent lab's result of 0.01.
Following an internal investigation, former employee Kyle Bayer was fired earlier this week for mishandling evidence, and he was in charge of testing 2,800 samples, according to TBI officials. About 323 of the cases Bayer handled were from Hamilton County, and Summers said he is handling 11 of those cases. He explained how the TBI usually analyzes samples.
"Basically, what they do is they run those batches through and they record the results, and they send back a report to the prosecutors in the county," said Summers.
Summers said the district attorney has called for a retest of all samples handled by Bayer. Cases less than a year old involving a driver who was found guilty or pleaded guilty to driving intoxicated now may head back to court.
"Those tests, those samples if they are available will be retested. Now, if they've been destroyed, then the state's got some problems for the fact that the defendant's now being deprived of having an independent test," said Summers. He added that he usually uses the independent lab Aperian in Opelika, Al., to analyze his clients' blood alcohol samples to confirm results found by the TBI.
The TBI sent NewsChannel9 this statement saying, "While all indications are that this was an isolated incident, confidence in the results issued by our laboratory is of paramount importance to the TBI ... We are currently making arrangements for an approved private lab to reanalyze every positive blood alcohol analysis performed by this examiner covering a period of approximately the last 10 months."
Summers said he still has some concerns about crime labs.
"The lab here is a branch of the TBI. It's not an independent lab (and) that concerns me. Tennessee also doesn't have a duplicate test, that you take one sample and you test it, and maybe five or 10 minutes later, you test again," said Summers.
The TBI said it plans to add an additional step to its testing process to make sure the same mistake doesn't happen again.They said they hope the entire process of retesting the blood samples will be finished by February 2014. A TBI spokesperson said they're only retesting the results from 14 of 31 judicial districts in Tennessee, and those are the areas Bayer oversaw.By Briona Arradondo