An investigation initiated by the FBI into former Oklahoma County forensic chemist Joyce Gilchrist continues. Gilchrist has been repeatedly accused of false testimony and shoddy results in her work during the past 15 years. She has been involved in approximately 3,000 cases, including at least 23 cases where defendants were eventually sentenced to death and have either been executed or remain on death row. 11 of those people were executed during the past two years, including Marilyn Plantz (upper left a few days before her death). A lawsuit has been filed to re-examine the case of Malcolm Rent Johnson, who was executed in January 2000. On September 25, 2001, Joyce Gilchrist was fired due to "laboratory mismanagement, criticism from court challenges and flawed casework analysis'', according to Police Chief M.T. Berry.
Alfred Brian Mitchell was convicted of the 1991 murder as well as rape and sodomy of Elaine Scott. In 1999 a Federal Court in Oklahoma overturned the rape and sodomy convictions as the jury in the original trial had not been informed a FBI agent refuted Joyce Gilchrist's test results and testimony. There was no DNA evidence indicating Mitchell had raped Scott contrary to Gilchrist's testimony. Now in August, 2001 a three judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned the death sentence and ordered a re-sentencing of Mr. Mitchell on only the murder conviction. The judges wrote "We simply cannot be confident that the jury would have returned the same sentence had no rape evidence been presented to it".
Robert Miller, Jr., was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1986 rapes and murders of Zelma Cutler and Anna Laura "Goldie" Fowler. Forensic chemist Joyce Gilchrist examined hairs obtained from the crime scenes and attributed them to Miller. She discounted a man named Ronald Lott as a possible suspect based on her conclusions.
Rob spent seven years on death row and another three years fighting for his freedom after DNA testing of these hairs determined his innocence. The DNA evidence shows Ronnie Lott to be the perpetrator of this crime. His trial is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2001.
Gilchrist also testified about hair evidence in the trial of Goldie Fowler's grandson, Mark. Three months prior to her death, Mark was convicted and sentenced to death for the murders of three grocery store employees. Mark always maintained he was the lookout man when the murders occurred and never killed anyone. Gilchrist's testimony about hair evidence implicated him as a killer. He was executed January 23, 2001.
Goldie's son, Jim Fowler, and his wife Ann (at left with a picture of Mark), now have too many unanswered questions about Gilchrist's forensic examination and testimony and why their son is dead and why they were led to believe for a total of 10 years that an innocent man raped and murdered their loved one.
But there is one thing they do not question...their commitment to their family and ending all of the unnecessary death that haunts them.
Oklahoma County District Attorney Robert Macy, who often relied on testimony from Gilchrist, announced his resignation effective June 30, 2001. He proudly claims to have tried at least 60 capital cases and is known as America's Deadliest DA.
Read the story of exonerated death row inmate Ron Williamson. Faulty hair analysis and testimony by Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation criminalist Melvin R. Hett sent Ron to his death sentence and co-defendant Dennis Fritz to a sentence of life without parole. Both men spent 10 years in prison before being exonerated by DNA evidence in 1999.
A 101-page report about the death penalty in Oklahoma was released by Amnesty International. A copy of the report is available on its web site. Both Gilchrist and Macy are cited in the Amnesty International report. (4/30/01)
Read the May 1, 2001 CNN report on the Joyce Gilchrist investigation, titled "FBI reviewing cases forensic expert handled".
Read the July 18, 2001, Shawnee News-Star article, Three death row cases due review about the ongoing investigation into death sentences that may have resulted from Joyce Gilchrist's testimony.