Biden: Replace Medical Examiner’s Office with new crime lab

April 24, 2014

The recent problems revealed with drug evidence in the State Medical Examiner’s Office make clear that Delaware needs to build its own, state-of-the-art crime laboratory, says Attorney General Beau Biden.

Biden, who is running for governor in 2016, said “Delaware must have its own independent, state-of-the-art crime laboratory. A new crime lab is the right thing to do for Delaware’s criminal justice system and the right thing to do for taxpayers.”

Two months ago, Biden’s office opened a criminal investigation into the Medical Examiner’s Office after police and prosecutors uncovered problems with drug evidence that had been sent for testing. The recent problems with evidence testing and the resulting delays and costs to the criminal justice system show the need for a new crime laboratory, Biden said.

Biden has released no other information on the investigation despite numerous requests. Chief Medical Examiner Richard Callery was suspended with pay on Feb. 25 from his $198,000 a year job. To date, no other crime lab employees have been suspended or arrested, although defense attorneys have said drugs were taken after leaving the lab and before evidence was returned to police.

Biden did not say how much a new facility would cost, only that some prosecutors have visited a Maryland crime lab that could serve as a model for Delaware. He said he intends to convene a group of state officials this summer to "begin the planning process for a new facility."

“For too long, police and prosecutors have had to overcome the challenges posed by the current scenario that forces us to send different evidence to separate laboratories in Delaware, and in many cases, to private laboratories out of state because the Delaware facilities lack either the capability or the capacity," Biden said. "As a result, investigations and prosecutions can be significantly delayed, compromising, at times, the orderly administration of justice.”