Expert witness credentials called into question on DWI cases

Image 1 of 2

The Harris County District Attorney's office is re-evaluating a decade's worth of DWI cases.

This comes after the credentials of an expert witness, a toxicology analyst, were called into question.

The analyst has been identified as Dr. Fessessework Guale, who works with the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences.

The issue of concern is her educational background. Court testimony shows that as an expert witness on DWI cases, she has said, under oath, that she has a Master's in Toxicology.

However, a notice sent out by the Harris County District Attorney's office says she, "in fact, received her Master's in Physiological Sciences." But an attorney who said he has cross examined her before and has her resume, showed Fox 26 News that her Master's is actually in physiological sciences for animals and that she has a vet degree from Ethiopia.

"All of her formal education has been toward animals, not the human body. This is very disturbing," said Tyler Flood, the president of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association.

A statement from the Institute of Forensic Sciences acknowledges the discrepancy between the title listed on Dr. Guale's degree and her testimony. Below is the statement from the Institute of Forensic Sciences in full.

Dr. Fessessework Guale is fully qualified to hold her current position at the IFS and to provide expert testimony in court. However, in response to feedback from the HCDAO regarding recent testimony from Dr. Guale, the new IFS Chief Toxicologist performed a review of Dr. Guale's credentials and some of her testimony. During the review, she identified a difference between the title listed on her degree and her testimony.
Dr. Guale has testified that she possesses a Master of Science degree in Toxicology. In fact, Dr. Guale's degree title is a Master of Science degree in Physiological Science; her master's program included coursework and thesis research in Toxicology. She has participated in continuing education in forensic toxicology throughout her professional career. Dr. Guale has earned certification by the American Board of Forensic Toxicology reflecting her knowledge, training, and experience in forensic toxicology.
IFS will review her previous testimonies to determine the extent of action necessary. In the meantime, Dr. Guale's duties have been reassigned pending courtroom testimony re-training.

So what does this mean? It could lead to cases being overturned.

This calls into question question the validity of all the verdicts and the pleas in every case she has been involved with," said Flood.

The Harris County Criminal Lawyer Association is demanding her immediate resignation and that the DA's office file aggravated perjury charges for false testimony.