Vials of the victim’s blood, taken when she was admitted to the hospital on March 3, 2014, were not transported to the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office until eight months after the autopsy report was completed. In a report dated March 12, 2014, LBPD Homicide Detective Todd Johnson wrote:
“On March 12, 2014, my partner (Detective Zottneck) was advised by St. Mary’s Hospital that they still had 3 tubes of Victim Jones’ blood in their hospital laboratory.
“I, Detective Johnson, went to St. Mary’s Hospital contacted St. Mary’s Laboratory Supervisor Flaming. He gave me 3 tubes containing Victim Jones blood medical record #272051 and laboratory reports. Prior to giving me the above items, we completed a chain of custody for biological specimens.
“I brought the above items back to the Homicide office and placed them into a manila envelope and sealed it with evidence tape. Detective Mike Dugan took the above evidence and checked them into evidence.
“Once in evidence, he checked them out and transported them to the LASO Scientific Crime Lab for toxicology analysis. LASO Crime Lab took possession of the above items and recorded them under lab receipt #K576382.”
So, according to Detective Johnson and the supporting documents, three vials of the victim’s blood (tag #806431) ultimately were checked in to the L.A. Sheriff’s Office crime lab by Detective Mike Dugan on March 12, 2014. LBPD Sergeant Erik Herzog signed off on the transfer.
Curiously, a conflicting report about these same vials of blood was filed by Detective Shea Robertson on December 5, 2014:
“I, Detective S. Robertson #6103, am assigned to the Homicide Detail. On December 5, 2012 [sic] I picked up three vials of blood (tag #806431) from the Long Beach Police Department Property Section. I transported this item to the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office the same day and gave it to Criminalist E. Fu, employee #481911. The Coroner’s Case number related to this investigation is 14-01724.”
Detective Robertson filed his report nine months after the LBPD had certified that the blood vials were handed off to the Sheriff’s Office crime lab. How and when did the vials appear in the Long Beach Police Department Property Section, where Detective Robertson picked them up in December 2014?
Detective Robertson filed his report eight months after the medical examiner had published his conclusions regarding the case. Why, at that late date, were the blood samples given to the coroner? Why not sooner?
For the victim’s family, the treatment of the victim’s blood samples raises serious doubts about the LBPD’s ability and willingness to handle evidence competently.
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Todd Johnson LBPD police corruption misconduct Long Beach California Dana Jones