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DNA Expert Returns To Head Santa Clara County Crime Lab

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DNA testing at a crime lab (CBS)

DNA testing at a crime lab (CBS)

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SAN JOSE (KCBS) – A former supervisor of the DNA section of the Santa Clara County crime lab will return to the Bay Area as director of the entire laboratory, said District Attorney Jeff Rosen.

Ian Fitch, who most recently oversaw a troubled crime lab in Colorado Springs, Colo., will replace the retiring director, Bennie Del Re.

“He’s very scientifically knowledgeable about DNA and all aspects of what we do in the crime laboratory. And even more importantly than that, he is a problem identifier and problem solver,” said Rosen.

KCBS’ Mike Colgan Reports:

When Fitch arrived in Colorado, several drunk driving cases had just been tossed because of problems in processing blood alcohol tests. Colleagues that spoke to the San Jose Mercury News credited Fitch with uncovering and correcting the problems.

Murder charges had to be tossed in a recent Santa Clara County case after questionable fiber testing in the lab. Rosen, who campaigned on a theme of transparency, said Fitch would uphold a principle he hopes will become a hallmark of his administration.

“I have complete confidence that if there are issues in the crime lab, he will address them and deal with them in a proactive way,” he said.

Rosen’s predecessor, Dolores Carr, faced heavy criticism for deciding not test physical evidence during the investigation of an alleged gang rape at a 2007 house party thrown by members of the DeAnza College baseball team.

Fitch, 48, was born in England and has a Ph.D. in microbiology and genetics.

“He has great expertise in the use of DNA in criminal cases,” Rosen said.

Fitch is one of the first appointments made by the new district attorney after a nationwide search to fill the position. His new job begins March 1.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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