More focus needed on State Police Crime Lab

An editorial from The Exponent Telegram

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — Last week, Harrison County Circuit Judge John Lewis Marks Jr. was not a happy man.

Anyone who knows the even-keeled adjudicator knows it takes a good bit to get a stir out of him. So we take added note with the issue that had him riled: The State Police Crime Lab.

 Marks was upset because a case before him was being delayed because alleged drugs found on the suspect had not been processed.

Assistant Prosecutor Laura Pickens asked for the trial to be delayed, prompting Marks to question how fair it was to keep the defendant jailed on an $80,000 bond awaiting a trial on charges dating back to April 24.

“How hard is it for a lab to determine it is what it is,” Marks asked of the materials alleged to be heroin, meth and marijuana.

When the defendant’s lawyer asked for consideration in lowering his client’s bond, Marks added, “They may never get around to getting the labs done.

“I don’t think it’s fair to her that she sit in jail for a year while they get their lab tests done. I’ll let her out on bond, and if they want to take six years to get the lab tests done, they can take six years to get the lab tests done.”

The next day, Marks delayed the trial to the end of the month and lowered the bail to $10,000.

This isn’t the first time the State Police Crime Lab has drawn criticism…

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