SADO client, caught in crime lab debacle, gets new trial

Nathan Jacobs was convicted of second-degree murder in 2007, and was sentenced to 25-47 years in prison. But he’s getting a new trial in Wayne County, thanks to the work of the State Appellate Defender Office special Crime Lab Unit.

The unit was created in response to the closure of the Detroit Police Crime Lab; the lab closed in 2008 after a Michigan State Police audit of ballistics evidence turned up a 10 percent error rate.

At Jacobs’ new trial, there will be new evidence presented — the presence of a second firearm, where the original trial theory claimed one.

According to SADO, “Two eyewitnesses originally testified that Jacobs shot the victim with an AK-47, once in the head and twice in the abdomen, in front of the victim’s house. Detroit Crime Lab analysis found the bullet fragments too damaged for proper analysis. Through research and investigation, SADO’s crime unit discovered that an independent forensic laboratory, Ron Smith & Associates, had analyzed the same firearms evidence as part of the Detroit Crime Lab audit. This analysis materially contradicted the Detroit Crime Lab result, finding that the abdomen bullet fragments were consistent with an AK-47 while the bullet fragments taken from the deceased’s head were consistent with a pistol.”

Jacobs is the fifth person to get a new trial; three of those defendants are SADO clients.

William Lee was wrongly convicted of a violent rape when he was 17 years old, and received 15-30 years. He has been exonerated after DNA evidence was re-examined. Flawed crime lab analysis helped to convict Orande Thompson of first-degree murder for the accidental shooting of his girlfriend. On retrial, he was convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

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