EXCLUSIVE: OSP reacts to overturned manslaughter conviction

OSP defends its handling of certain DNA evidence in the case, which a judge just recently cited as the reason for overturning Nicholas McGuffin's manslaughter conviction.

Posted: Dec 18, 2019 4:08 PM
Updated: Dec 19, 2019 11:21 AM

COOS COUNTY, Ore. -- As Nicholas McGuffin spent his first full day as a free man on Wednesday, questions continued about certain DNA evidence in the case.

It's that evidence that recently overturned his 2011 manslaughter conviction. A judge accused Oregon State Police of withholding information. 

RELATED: NICHOLAS MCGUFFIN RELEASED FROM PRISON

Now, OSP Forensic Science and Pathology Major Alex Gardner, former Lane County District Attorney, is defending his agency. 

"We provided all of the information," said Gardner. "What we didn't do was comment on the potential existence of male DNA, which at the time, given the system constraints at the time, we couldn't confidently identify as male DNA."

In 2000, the DNA was discovered on victim Leah Freeman's shoes. As it turns out, it was from an unknown male. But according to court documents, that wasn't revealed at trial about a decade later. Gardner maintained that the OSP crime lab experts did their job. 

MORE: COQUILLE RESIDENTS REACT TO OVERTURNED MANSLAUGHTER CONVICTION

"We provide all of the information, the raw data. But we don't draw conclusions that aren't confidently supported by the data," he said.

KEZI 9 News also spoke to Janis Puracal, McGuffin's attorney. She said the mystery DNA should have been reanalyzed and reported during the trial. 

"So it didn't actually come to light. And it wasn't actually reported until we got into the post conviction case," Puracal said. 

"Do you believe that (OSP) purposely withheld that evidence? Do you think that they just mishandled it? How would you characterize their responsibility in all this?" KEZI 9 News anchor Bryan Anderson asked.

"I would say that the state lab definitely mishandled this case," answered Puracal. 

Gardner denied that accusation. 

"I'd like folks at home to understand that we have incredibly capable people who are scientists. They are not advocates. They say what they can say using the best techniques available at the time," Gardner said. "But science evolves. It's not CSI. It is not magic and in six hours we know who the suspect is by a profile on every case. It just doesn't work like that."

Below is the full interview with OSP's Gardner:

Below is the full interview with McGuffin's attorney:

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 22613

Reported Deaths: 385
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah5186101
Washington325827
Marion309073
Umatilla239832
Clackamas162749
Malheur86915
Deschutes62711
Lane6154
Jackson5362
Yamhill50213
Lincoln4319
Union3972
Jefferson3964
Morrow3933
Polk35012
Linn31511
Hood River2150
Klamath2062
Wasco1993
Benton1826
Douglas1591
Josephine1362
Columbia1031
Coos930
Clatsop880
Baker520
Crook511
Tillamook350
Lake320
Wallowa201
Curry170
Sherman160
Harney110
Gilliam40
Grant40
Unassigned00
Wheeler00
Eugene
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 102° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 82°
Corvallis
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 102° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 82°
Roseburg
Clear
86° wxIcon
Hi: 109° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 86°
North Bend
Clear
83° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 83°
KEZI Radar
KEZI Temperatures
KEZI Planner

LATEST FORECAST

Community Events