REVIEW of chemist's cases could take nine months

Tuesday, July 31st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ It could be next year before Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation criminalists finish their review of cases assigned to an Oklahoma City police chemist whose work has been criticized.

A five-member OSBI team has reviewed 421 of 1,651 of Joyce Gilchrist's cases in the past 12 weeks. The criminalists have recommended 62 cases for further review, Kym Koch, OSBI public information director, said Monday.

The entire review could take about nine months, officials said.

All of Gilchrist's cases in which the defendant received the death penalty, life without parole or life imprisonment have been examined.

``From here on out, the case file reviews will go faster, but the team will have to take time out from case reviews to sort through and send out evidence for retesting,'' Koch said.

The FBI alleges Gilchrist performed shoddy forensic work in five criminal cases. A critical FBI report recommended a review of all cases in which the 21-year police chemists forensic work was significant to a conviction.

In addition to the FBI investigation, a multiagency task force is trying to determine the quality of Gilchrist's forensic lab work and if her testimony fell within the realm of forensic science. Gilchrist, now on paid administrative leave, denies any wrongdoing.

Representatives of the attorney general's office and the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System will begin reviewing transcripts in the 62 cases targeted for further examination, Koch said.

Attorney General Drew Edmondson has so far recommended three of the 12 death row cases for additional review.

The OSBI will begin reviewing evidence from Oklahoma City police officials in the death row cases of Michael Edward Hooper and John M. Hooker.

Representatives from Edmondson's office and the state indigent defense system will determine which evidence needs to be analyzed before being sent to a private laboratory named by the task force.

Hooker, 34, was convicted in the 1988 stabbing deaths of his common-law wife, Sylvia Stokes, 28, and her mother, Drusilla Morgan, 53.

Hooper, 29, was convicted Jan. 29, 1995, of three counts of first-degree murder in Canadian County for the shooting deaths of his ex-girlfriend, Cindy Jarman, 23, and her children, Tonya, 5, and Timmy, 3.