The removal of the murder of Michael Jordan’s father from a list of cases mismanaged by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations (SBI) highlights the importance of its crime labs for effective criminal defense and a fair criminal justice system. SBI crime labs are used to corroborate initial investigatory reports.
For example, an initial report will state blood was found in the bedroom of a murder scene. A follow up test by SBI can determine whether the substance was blood or not. SBI then reports its findings. Sometimes SBI’s findings do not make it to either the prosecution or defense, and the Jordan case highlights such a mistake. The criminal justice system requires SBI to inform defense attorneys about their evidentiary updates.
From 1987 to 2003, SBI failed to inform either side of the case of its results in 230 cases. Within the 230 cases, 190 of the suspects were charged with a crime. The test in the case of James Jordan was inconclusive, and according to a Robeson County District Attorney the lack of the SBI report did not affect the outcome of the case because it was not built around blood evidence. The tests in the Jordan case were conducted on a substance found on the front passenger seat of Jordan’s car.
Daniel Andre Green and Larry Martin Demery are both serving life sentences for murder. Demery pleaded guilty at trial and testified at Green’s trial. Demery testified Green shot James Jordan at point blank range in Jordan’s parked car. The car was parked on U.S. 74, and Jordan had pulled-over on the highway to sleep.
Green has denied killing Jordan but admitted he helped dispose the body. Green is seeking a new trial and his lawyer believes SBI’s management of the issue is important.
Source: Fay Observer, “James Jordan Case is Off SBI Crime Lab List,” 9/10/10