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Zain Fallout Continues

Fred Zain was a crime lab serologist, who tested evidence for the West Virginia state police from 1979 to 1989, and was chief of serology his last five years. During that time Zain falsified evidence and testified about the results of tests he never performed.

In 1989, Zain took a letter of recommendation from the West Virginia governor and headed to Texas, where he was named head of serology at the Baxter County medical examiner's office in San Antonio. Zain worked there until 1992 when his West Virginia shenanigans came to light. [See: "Fraudulent Police Chemist Flees Justice", PLN Vol. 5, No. 10]

An investigation was triggered by the case of West Virginian Glen Dale Woodall, whose 1987 rape convictions were overturned after DNA tests showed he could not have committed the crime for which he had already served five years. In 1993, the WV supreme court invalidated as many as 138 felony convictions because of evidence tainted or fabricated by Zain. Woodall was awarded $1 million for his false incarceration. William O'Dell Harris, also convicted by flawed testimony from Zain, was later awarded $1.8 million.

In October, 1997, West Virginian Gerald Wayne Davis settled for a reported $650,000 in a similar case. During Davis' 1986 trial, Zain said the defendant's semen matched that found in the victim. Subsequent DNA tests negated Zain's findings.

The three settlements reported above are the only WV cases to have been settled. The editors of PLN have no information about the outcome of Zain's work in Texas, though Texas authorities say they think Zain may have tainted more than 1,000 cases there. Readers who have information about the Zain fallout in Texas are encouraged to share that information with PLN 's news editor, (address on page two).

Charleston Gazette ,Seattle Times

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