HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — Four employees at the Houston Forensic Science Center were fired last week, after their superiors discovered they started a private DNA testing lab, then lied about it when questioned by their employer.
Operating the lab while employed as forensic scientists is a direct violation of their employment contracts.
The company was called DNA Mavens. It is unclear if the lab has any actual clients, but it does have a robust social media presence.
“They were engaged in similar testing to what their employer was doing,” Jed Silverman, the president of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association, said.
Silverman found out because the Forensic Science Center had to send letters to both defense attorneys and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, telling them employees whom they depended on to test crime scene evidence were fired.
“If they’re not abiding by an employment contract, it creates a huge problem,” Silverman said. “Because you wonder, ‘What else are they not telling the truth about?'”
According to a letter provided to ABC13, these were the four who were fired:
- Cynthia Cale, assistant technical leader
- India Henry, training coordinator
- Marisil Wright, pennant, forensic analyst
- Zoraya Reyes, forensic analyst
The names of the women are featured prominently on the DNA Mavens website and social media pages. However, calls to their phones and to the company’s listed number went unanswered.
Because the firings are so recent, nobody involved knows how many cases it could affect.
“It could mean good people who did not commit a crime could get convicted, and it could mean people who are guilty could get away. It cuts both ways,” Silverman said. “We don’t know yet.”
The district attorneys office and the Harris County Defense Bar say they are working through cases to see which ones were impacted.
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