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Court correctly ruled toxicology department audit results ‘irrelevant’

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The Hamilton Superior Court properly denied a defendant’s attempt to elicit testimony concerning the reliability of toxicology test results from the Indiana Department of Toxicology dealing with an audit of tests performed by the department from 2007 to 2009, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Thursday.

Troy Wilson was charged with Class A misdemeanors possession of marijuana and driving while intoxicated; he only challenged his DWI conviction on appeal. Wilson agreed to submit to a blood draw test for the presence of alcohol in his system on Dec. 6, 2009, and a nurse performed the blood draw using a kit provided to police by the State Department of Toxicology. It was later analyzed by the department’s lab in 2010, and tested again in 2011 after the original analyst was no longer employed with the department. Wilson was convicted in January 2012.

At trial, Wilson sought to introduce testimony from Dr. Scott Kriger, Ph.D., the department’s director, concerning audits conducted of test results produced by the department during 2007, 2008 and 2009. The independent audit found testing errors in around 10 percent of marijuana tests and a third of cocaine tests. Further audits were postponed before alcohol tests could be reviewed. The state objected and the trial court ruled the testimony inadmissible.

The Court of Appeals rejected Wilson’s argument that his confrontation rights were violated when he was unable to elicit the audit testimony from Kriger. But he was able to cross-examine the second analyst and Kriger regarding how the tests are performed and other information, Judge L. Mark Bailey wrote in Troy Wilson v. State of Indiana, 29A02-1202-CR-88.

The trial court also didn’t err in determining the audit testimony was irrelevant as the audit pertained to samples tested from 2007 to 2009 and Wilson’s test used at trial was performed in 2011, the judges held. Wilson argued the audit results impact the jury’s assessment of the credibility of the department’s analysis of his blood sample because his test “could have been part of an audit.”

“The discontinuation of the audit on blood-alcohol samples and the period of time covered by the audits generally may bear upon the credibility of the Department’s testing results from 2007 to 2009. But it is not clear that these questions bear upon the credibility of the Department’s analysis here, where different procedures were executed by different analysts serving under a different Director more than 1 ½ years beyond the chronological scope of the audits,” Bailey wrote.

 

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