Forensic scientist deemed negligent as dozens of criminal cases may be reviewed

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas – In its final report released Friday, the Texas Forensic Science Commission found the former Harris County crime lab analyst embellished her degree and experience.

Dr. Fessessework Guale has always maintained her innocence.

She told KPRC back in 2016 that she did not lie about her expertise under oath and that it was all a misunderstanding.

“My training is in toxicology, but the degree says physiological science which is a big area, which toxicology is. It’s a part of it or it’s called a sub-discipline,” Guale said during the interview.

On Friday, the Texas Forensic Science Commission is asking the Harris County District Attorney’s Office to review all cases in which Guale gave an expert testimony.

“She would say that a person’s BAC would always be higher at the time they were driving,” said Tyler Flood, president of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association. “So if you were a .08 (BAC) at the time of the test she would say you were higher at the time of driving.”

Tyler Flood with the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association said the commission also found Guale did not have a master's degree in toxicology, was negligent as a crime lab analyst and often gave contradicting testimonies in several trials.

“So she wasn’t really giving an expert opinion,” Flood said. “She was doing the, 'well this is how I feel and this is what I think' but it wasn’t based on science.”

Guale and the HCIFS Crime lab have parted ways. Its director Roger Kahn, Ph.D, issued a statement to KPRC saying in part, “We honor our reputation and the integrity. Dr. Guale’s credentials did not measure up to our expectations.”

The Texas Forensic Science Commission now wants the Harris County District Attorney’s Office to review past cases Guale was used as an expert witness. Flood said there could be anywhere from 40 to 50 cases dating back to 2006.

“Real people’s lives have been affected and that may never be able to be fixed so there needs to be a review,” he said.

Flood said he hopes Harris County judges and prosecutors don’t rely so heavily on the testimony of crime lab experts going forward.