Ten years of toxicology expert's testimony under review after credentials questioned

By Keith Garvin - Anchor/Reporter

HOUSTON - The Harris County expert witness at the center of the most recent controversy for the district attorney's office is under fire for allegedly not telling the truth -- under oath -- about her education and expertise.  It's a dilemma that could impact hundreds if not thousands of DWI cases dating back to 2006.

At her home in Pearland, Dr. Fessessework Guale called the matter a "misunderstanding."

"My training is in toxicology but the degree says physiological sciences, which is a big area which toxicology is a sub part of it," says Guale.  "It's called a sub discipline."

The DA's office informed a group of defense attorneys Tuesday that Guale may have testified in the past her masters was in toxicology -- when it, in fact, is in physiological sciences.  Her testimony has been key in numerous DWI convictions over the past decade.

The president of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association says his and other groups will ask for Guale to be indicted and never again be allowed to testify in DWI cases.

"We're asking for her resignation, we're asking that all these cases be revisited that she was on," says Attorney Tyler Flood.  "We're asking that the DA's office not designate her as an expert witness."

The DA's office says its investigation has just begun and right now it is working to find out exactly how many cases Guale has testified in.

The Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences released a statement Thursday that read, "Dr. Fessessework Guale is fully qualified to hold her current position at the IFS and to provide expert testimony in court. However, in response to feedback from the HCDAO regarding recent testimony from Dr. Guale, the new IFS Chief Toxicologist performed a review of Dr. Guale’s credentials and some of her testimony. During the review, she identified a difference between the title listed on her degree and her testimony.

"Dr. Guale has testified that she possesses a Master of Science degree in Toxicology. In fact, Dr. Guale’s degree title is a Master of Science degree in Physiological Science; her master’s program included coursework and thesis research in Toxicology. She has participated in continuing education in forensic toxicology throughout her professional career. Dr. Guale has earned certification by the American Board of Forensic Toxicology reflecting her knowledge, training, and experience in forensic toxicology.

"IFS will review her previous testimonies to determine the extent of action necessary. In the meantime, Dr. Guale’s duties have been reassigned pending courtroom testimony re-training."

2016 Click2Houston/KPRC2