DNA Mix Up Leads to Rape Case Review in Florida

DNA evidence used to convict a man for a violent home invasion and rape was mislabeled, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.


ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. --

 

DNA evidence used to convict a man for a violent home invasion and rape was mislabeled, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Now, an alleged Altamonte Springs rape victim may have to relive what happened to her years after the attack.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said it mixed labels on the DNA from the suspect and the alleged victim's boyfriend.

The Altamonte Springs Police Department admitted they made the mistake that started the issue. FDLE admitted that two of its lab workers then made the mistake of not catching the police department's error and prosecutors said no one is more distraught over it than the rape victim.

The mistake has led to a review of six months worth of cases at the FDLE lab in Orlando.

The victim suffered unspeakable horrors in her apartment seven years ago, after her hands were tied with an electrical cord, according to the police report.

On Monday, FDLE admitted its lab blundered the case against her accused rapist, Andrew Lingard, which resulted in his conviction, using the wrong DNA evidence.

"We should have caught that mistake at that time," said FDLE special agent Joyce Dawley.

FDLE found out about the 2004 mistake two weeks ago. Its lab analyst and reviewer have been reassigned pending a full scale investigation into their apparent failure to notice that labels on the DNA samples from the alleged victim's boyfriend and Lingard were switched, agents said.

The boyfriend was not a suspect, police said.

Altamonte Springs police said their former evidence technician made the original error, but they insist Lingard is the right man.

"The defendant in the case we believe is guilty, still guilty of this crime," said Altamonte Springs Police Chief Michael Deal.

Altamonte police said the victim's clothing, sheets and a bandana can be tested against Lingard's DNA. Therefore, Seminole County prosecutors said they will ask a judge on Wednesday to force Lingard to provide another DNA sample for that testing.

"If in fact his DNA is found there at the crime scene as part of the rape kit or what have you, there probably will be no new trial," said state attorney spokesperson Pat Whitaker.

The mistake was discovered when the FBI told the FDLE it had a recent hit on Lingard's DNA, but Lingard has been in prison for the last four years, officials said.

 

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