TBI error puts 92 local DUI cases in question
By Andrea Agardy, staff writer
A mistake in the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation lab has caused concern over DUI cases from across the state.
The error was made in the laboratory process of testing blood samples that involved a vehicular homicide case in Hamilton County, according to Coffee County District Attorney Mickey Layne.
TBI special agent Kyle Bayer was terminated after the mistake was discovered, thus placing samples from some 2,800 cases in question, said Layne, who added that there are 92 Coffee County cases that will be retested.
“We immediately notified all the attorneys and judges involved explaining the situation and just making them aware of the situation,” Layne said.
According to Layne, the TBI has sent samples from all 2,800 cases to a private lab for retesting and expect to have results of those tests by February.
“The TBI just wants to be 100 percent certain of the findings,” he said.
Bayer was dismissed after an internal review revealed that he had mistakenly switched a couple of blood samples in a vehicular homicide case in Hamilton County.
According to reports, the case came to light after Chattanooga attorney Jerry Summers sent his client’s samples to a private lab to be retested.
The TBI test showed that the man had a blood alcohol test of .24, which is three times the legal limit of .08, but when the private lab tested the blood it came back with a result of .01.
While the TBI says that convictions could potentially be overturned or pending cases dismissed, depending on the new results, Layne says he does not expect that to happen with the cases in Coffee County.
“It appears that the mistakes were isolated incidents by an examiner who, despite extensive training, switched the two adjacent samples at the onset of the analysis process and then failed to follow a number of procedural checkpoints which would have caught the error,” Layne said.