HASTINGS, Minn. (WCCO) – A Minneapolis man has been found guilty on drug charges in Dakota County despite the fact that the substances connected with his crimes were initially tested by the troubled St. Paul Police Crime Lab.
According to the Dakota County Attorney’s office, 43-year-old Richard Ellis Hill, Jr. was found guilty of controlled substance crimes in the first and second degree.
Hill’s case is the first which addresses if drugs previously processed by the St. Paul Police Crime Lab could be retested and then made admissible in a subsequent trial.
Judge Jerome Abrams rejected the defense counsel’s claims that the substances were contaminated while in St. Paul Police’s possession. Abrams said evidence presented by the defense showed that contamination was a “remote or unlikely possibility.” Subsequent tests by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension were admitted.
In July 2012, Dakota, Ramsey and Washington county attorney’s offices said they would stop relying on testing by St. Paul’s Crime Lab after an expert claimed their chemical analysis was insufficient and done by untrained staff.
Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said he’s happy with the outcome of the case.
“I am committed to continuing to work with my colleagues in Ramsey and Washington counties to address remaining issues associated with the problems involving the St. Paul Police Department Crime Lab to insure that affected cases are resolved in the interests of justice,” Backstrom said.
Hill is currently being held without bail.