Blood vials

Detail from LBPD photo img_00139
Blood spatter and stains in LBPD photos

Three tubes of Dana’s blood were drawn when she was admitted to St. Mary hospital in Long Beach on the morning of March 3, 2014. Her first lab report shows that her body was assigned to One Legacy for organ harvesting (pdf.) In other words, she was brain dead on arrival. When her death became a coroner’s case the next day, her admission blood samples, by law, became the property of the coroner. But these blood samples were not transported to the coroner along with her body.

Rather, the fate of these blood samples shows yet another instance of false reporting by Long Beach police homicide detectives. In a report dated March 12, 2014, 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.”

Blood sample report chain (pdf)

It was careless of the hospital, One Legacy, and homicide detectives to neglect sending Dana’s blood to the coroner in the first place. As Todd Johnson tells it, and as the report chain shows, three vials of Dana’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 samples 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’s report (pdf)

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 blood manage to find its way to the LBPD Property Section, where Detective Robertson picked it 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 Dana’s family, the treatment of her blood samples raises serious doubts about the LBPD’s ability and willingness to handle evidence competently, and to represent facts truthfully.

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