Evidence That Stinks
Innocence Project says Texas' scent lineup evidence is stinky junk
By Jordan Smith, 8:34AM, Tue. Sep. 22, 2009
The Innocence Project of Texas is calling on the Forensic Science Commission to investigate the use of "scent lineups" in criminal cases across the state, and asking state lawmakers to enact laws that prohibit the use of such "junk science" in criminal cases, according to a new report from the Lubbock-based group released on Monday.
The IPOT, which works to exonerate the wrongly convicted, says scent lineups – where dogs match a scent from a crime scene to a scent collected from a suspect – that were performed by bloodhounds owned and overseen by Fort Bend Co. Deputy Keith Pikett are no more than junk science that has been implicated in a number of wrongful arrests and, worse, convictions of innocent people across the state. Indeed, according to the report, Pikett has testified that there is no need for formal training or for scientific rules and protocols in conducting such lineups, and has rejected the importance of scientific studies regarding scent identification. That's disturbing, IPOT says, especially when you consider that prosecutors across the state – including with the Texas Attorney General's Office – rely on Pikett and his dogs to provide "expert testimony" in numerous criminal cases.
Not everyone is enamored with Pikett and his work – including retired Harris Co. Assistant District Attorney Victor Wisner who witnessed firsthand how a suspect who had nothing to do with a string of robberies in Houston was fingered as guilty by a Pikett scent lineup requested by two Houston PD detectives. "The scent evidence was ludicrous and incriminated a person who was unrelated to the offenses," he wrote in a July affidavit.
You can read the entire report here.