Washington, DC—They say DNA and fingerprint evidence does not lie and that’s for the most part a correct statement. However those government officials involved in the investigation, collection, preservation and examination of evidence occasionally do some horrible things. When that happens often it is a perfect crime, because proving such a case is almost impossible.
In 1990, Shirley Kinge was convicted in an arson/murder case that where four people perished. The investigator involved was truly a Golden Boy, New York State Police Trooper, Robert M. Lishansky. He was an 11 year veteran of that agency and considered one of their brightest and best investigators.
Lishansky was lifting prints from plain paper copies of filed inked fingerprint cards with standard lifting tape and then claiming he lifted them at crime scenes. At crime scenes latent prints are made visible by dusting them with a fine black powder that sticks to the latent print oily material. The tape is then used to lift the print image and then placed on a white card where it can be clearly observed, photographed and classified for comparison with the prints of potential suspects.
The prints “collected” by Lishansky always looked identical to those normally found at crime scenes. However under special, non-routine scientific analysis the chemical makeup of the black material was copier toner, not fingerprint dusting powder! Lisansky walked into courtroom after courtroom and gave perjured testimony with a straight face destroying lives along the way. Lishansky was schooled in the frame-up procedure by his police supervisor, David Harding.
While being considered for a CIA position Lishansky’s supervisor David Harding was proving his skills as a secret agent to CIA official. Harding bragged that he could frame anyone for murder and explained his techniques with some recent examples. Harding may have been delusional in that he felt that this conduct was acceptable, or was he? Just what did Harding’s superiors really know? The CIA blew the whistle on Harding and before it was over he confessed to fingerprint tampering in numerous cases.
Lishansky was convicted and sentenced from 6 to 18 years in prison. Harding was sentenced to from 4 to 12 years.
The real rub here is that the victims of the frame-ups all were put in prison for much longer terms on the basis of the falsified evidence. Thankfully New York abolished the death penalty or Shirley Kinge would have been sent straight to Death Row. Kinge was released from prison soon after the tampering came to light.
Lishansky and Harding were dangerous serial criminals with police badges. Under the laws of our states and the Federal Government a single incident of evidence tampering and perjury would normally allow for probation even if it involved a death penalty case. Since this and many other cases involving corrupt crime lab technicians the penalties have not been increased.
We must change our laws to at least make perjury and evidence-tampering crimes carry the same penalty that the falsely accused and prosecuted victim was facing. Here the cops framing innocents got prison only because it involved numerous cases.