Key Role of Texas Forensic Lab Orchid Cellmark is Revealed in High Profile Murder Investigation

The important role played by a Texas forensic lab has been highlighted in relation to a high profile murder investigation in Massachusetts.

Fox News reported the authorities in Massachusetts are sending evidence from the Molly Bish homicide investigation to the Orchid Cellmark lab in Dallas.

Bish was just 16 in 2000 when she disappeared at Comins Pond in Warren where she was working as a lifeguard.

It took another three years for her body to be discovered. Investigators say she was first abducted, then killed. It remains one of the highest profile unsolved cases in the north east.

According to Fox News, Timothy J. Connolly, a spokesman for District Attorney Joseph D. Early, declined to tell the Telegram and Gazette newspaper what items he would be sending to the Dallas lab for testing, but said “some of the evidence gathered in connection with the investigation has been tested in the past.”

He said the testing of the items is likely to be done more quickly at Dallas’ Orchid Cellmark than at the state police lab because of its heavy workload. These strains on the system caused by high demand can hold up the criminal justice system and impede defendants getting a fair trial. Privately owned Labs such as Orchid Cellmark play an important role.

Fox News reported last year, authorities searched the home of Rodney Stanger in Florida, a “convicted killer possibly linked to Bish’s murder.”

They were looking for any clues that might implicate him in the disappearance and killing of Bish.

At present Stanger is serving a 25-year prison term in Florida for the 2008 stabbing death of his live-in girlfriend, Chrystal Morrison.

The Telegram reported Molly’s sister, Heather Bish, said she was waiting for test results on cigarette butts, duct tape and other items.

Recently scientists from Orchid Cellmark played a significant role in giving evidence in a trial that followed a high profile wrongful conviction.

In March, 2013, the Texas Tribune reported the scientists gave evidence in the murder trial Mark Norwood who was accused of the killing of Christine Morton.

“Prosecutors concluded their presentation of DNA evidence that links him to a blue bandana found about 100 yards away from the North Austin crime scene. That evidence led to the exoneration of Michael Morton, who was wrongfully convicted of murdering his wife in 1987 and spent nearly 25 years in prison. It also led to Norwood’s arrest and indictment,” reported the Tribune.

Scientists from Orchid Cellmark, who performed the DNA testing, told jurors how they tested the bandana in the lab and gave details as to the precision of the matching. They said they located Christine Morton’s blood on the garment mixed with biological material from Norwood.

“Huma Nasir, a forensic scientist at Orchid Cellmark who conducted some of the testing, said the statistical probability of the male DNA she found matching with any other Caucasian man but Norwood was 1 in 662.9 trillion,” reported the Texas Tribune.

A jury convicted Norwood of capital murder in the 1986 death of Christine Morton in Williamson County on March 27, 2013.

Although Norwood was sentenced to life in prison, he will be eligible for parole after serving 15 years because of laws that were enacted when the crime took place.

Mick Mickelsen is a nationally recognized criminal trial attorney with more than 30 years of experience defending people charged with white-collar crimes, drug offenses, sex crimes, murder, and other serious state and federal offenses.