Atty: Neb. CSI head not a criminal, may have erred
OMAHA, Neb. — The lawyer for a crime scene investigator charged with falsifying records in a murder case said Friday his client may have made mistakes but did not commit a crime. And a prosecutor said no evidence has been found suggesting problems with other cases the investigator handled.
David Kofoed, commander of the Douglas County crime scene investigations unit, was charged with evidence tampering Wednesday in state court and then was indicted a day later on related federal charges.
His attorney, Steve Lefler, said Friday that he and Kofoed “welcome the opportunity to have 12 people on a jury listen to both sides of the story.”
Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said Friday that his office is still poring over other cases but a review of dozens of other cases so far has found no evidence of tampering.
Lawyers for two former suspects in the 2006 murders of Wayne and Sharmon Stock accuse Kofoed, 52, of planting a speck of blood in a car linked to them.
The suspects, Nicholas Sampson and Matthew Livers, were eventually cleared, but first spent months in custody. Two other people were later convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
Clarence Mock, the special prosecutor handling the state case, said Friday he brought the felony evidence-tampering charge after reviewing documents in the case. He said the charge does not accuse Kofoed of planting evidence in the car, but says Kofoed knowingly and deliberately filed a false police report related to the collection of blood from the car.
Kofoed is charged in a federal indictment with deprivation of rights, falsifying records and other counts.
Lefler said Kofoed may have made some mistakes in the case, but they did not rise to the level of criminal misconduct.
“When the investigation first started, he was confused. But now he’s just ready to fight,” Lefler said.
Lefler hinted that cross-contamination likely accounted for the blood in the car.
“Maybe 30 to 40 people had access to the crime scene; less than that had access to the car,” Lefler said. “One of the things we’re going to try to educate the public on is how easily transportable DNA evidence is.”
The Stocks were shot to death in their Cass County farm home in April 2006. Douglas County’s CSI unit was called in to help collect and process forensic evidence. Investigators focused early on Livers, the Stocks’ nephew who is mildly retarded, and his cousin Sampson.
Court records show that Livers was interrogated for 11 hours before he falsely confessed and implicated Sampson.
An initial search of a car used by Sampson and Livers turned up no evidence. But a second inspection, led by Kofoed, turned up a trace sample of Wayne Stock’s blood.
Both Sampson and Livers have filed lawsuits that accuse law enforcement of trying to cover up a botched investigation.
The case raised questions from some defense attorneys about other criminal cases in which Kofoed handled evidence.
Jerry Soucie with the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy said Thursday that he has been in touch with several prosecutors concerning cases on which Kofoed has worked.
Soucie said one of the cases he is looking at is the murder case against Ivan Henk, who was sentenced in 2005 to life in prison after pleading guilty to killing his 4-year-old son, Brendan Gonzalez. Brendan’s body has never been found.