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Florida DNA Mix-Up Raises Questions about Rapist’s Conviction

When the FBI informed the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) that it had a recent “hit” on the DNA of convicted rapist Andrew Lingard, the FDLE realized there was a problem: Lingard had been in prison for the past four years, and the FDLE lab in Orlando had processed the DNA evidence that led to his conviction and life sentence.

In September 2011, an investigation revealed that the labels on two DNA samples – that of Lingard and the boyfriend of the rape victim – were mistakenly switched by Altamonte Springs police evidence technician Toni Bullock, and the error went unnoticed by an FDLE lab analyst and reviewer. Based on the mislabeled DNA evidence, Lingard was convicted of raping a 21-year-old woman during a 2004 home-invasion robbery.

Undeterred, Altamonte Springs police chief Michael Deal insisted that Lingard was still guilty. Seminole County prosecutors said they would seek a court order compelling Lingard to provide another DNA sample for testing. Why the original sample was no longer available was not explained.

An independent lab, Orchid Cellmark, conducted additional tests on the rape victim’s clothing and bed sheets, and found a match with Lingard’s DNA. Thus, according to Assistant State Attorney Pat Whitaker, “the original mislabeling of evidence did not result in any prejudice to the defendant.”

Lingard’s attorney said he would likely seek a second opinion on the results of the more recent DNA tests.

Sources:, Orlando Sentinel

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