OKLAHOMA AG recommends three death row cases be reviewed further

Tuesday, July 17th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The cases of three inmates who were sentenced to death on the strength of an Oklahoma City police chemist's forensic work will be reviewed further, the state Attorney General's office said Monday.

Drew Edmondson's staff completed a nine-week review of capital punishment cases in which Joyce Gilchrist analyzed forensic evidence or gave court testimony. The review is part of a multi-agency task force's examination of Gilchrist's work.

The FBI has accused Gilchrist of shoddy forensic work in five criminal cases. A critical FBI report recommended a review of all cases in which the 21-year police chemist's work was significant to a conviction.

Gilchrist, now on paid administrative leave, denies any wrongdoing.

Edmondson's office would like a closer look at the convictions of death row inmates John Michael Hooker, Michael Edward Hooper and Curtis Edward McCarty.

A jury convicted Hooker, 34, in the 1988 stabbing deaths of his common-law wife, Sylvia Morgan, 28, and her mother, Drucilla Morgan, 53.

Gilchrist conducted the blood typing on a blood splatter on a wall, a knife and a towel. Gilchrist testified that blood found on Hooker's pants was consistent with both victims' blood types.

Hooper, 29, was convicted in January 1995 of three counts of first-degree murder in Canadian County.

He was sentenced to death for fatally shooting his ex-girlfriend, Cindy Jarman, 23, and her children, Tonya, 5, and Timmy, 3. Their bodies were found Dec. 10, 1993, in a shallow grave in western Oklahoma County.

The FBI determined through DNA profiles that the blood found on Hooper's right shoe was consistent with the blood of the victims. Edmondson said Gilchrist's analysis of the blood and fibers should be reviewed.

McCarty, 39, was convicted in the Dec. 10, 1982, stabbing and strangulation death of Pam Willis, 17, at her southwest Oklahoma City house.

In 1988, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals overturned McCarty's murder conviction and ordered a new trial because Gilchrist gave personal opinions beyond the scope of scientific capabilities.

Gilchrist denied she did anything wrong in McCarty's case. She linked McCarty to head and pubic hairs found on the victim and at the crime scene. The FBI said Gilchrist's testimony about hair evidence could not be supported by science.

The death penalty case of Dewey George Moore, 64, also will be reviewed, even though Gilchrist did not do analysis or testify. Another chemist, the late Janice Davis, conducted the forensic work in the 1984 kidnapping and killing of Jenipher Gilbert, 12.

The attorney general also has completed his review of the 1991 murder case that sent Alfred Brian Mitchell to death row and decided against additional review. Mitchell was convicted of first-degree murder in the bludgeoning death of 21-year-old Elaine Scott, a University of Oklahoma student who was working at the Pilot Recreation Community Center in west Oklahoma City.

Gilchrist testified semen and hair found on the victim was consistent with blood from Mitchell and that Scott's blood was found in the defendant's home and on his clothes.

U.S. District Judge Ralph G. Thompson criticized Gilchrist in Mitchell's 1999 federal death penalty review.

Since May 9, five Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation criminalists have examined 25 percent of the 1,651 Gilchrist cases submitted by the Oklahoma City Police Department. The criminalists have recommended 58 of the 377 cases reviewed be further examined by the attorney general and the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System.

The OSBI will suspend its review this week to give criminalists time to return to regular duties.