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Prosecutors Defend Evidence in Sommer Trial, Despite Reservations


Aired 4/19/09

San Diego County prosecutors are defending the use of key evidence in the murder trial against Cynthia Sommer — even though experts had reservations from the beginning. Sommer was released from jail after that evidence was found to be contaminated. KPBS reporter Andrew Phelps explains.

Before the trial began, neither prosecutors nor the defense knew that samples of Todd Sommer's liver were contaminated with arsenic. That evidence helped convict Cynthia Sommer of murder.

But at least one of the prosecutor's lab technicians raised concerns about the accuracy of the tests. In a pre-trial e-mail [pdf] to the county coroner, he wrote, "I don't have a good interpretation of these results."

No one from the D.A.'s office will talk on tape. A spokesman say it was also wrong for prosecutor Laura Gunn to say she was unaware of untested samples that could exonerated the defendant.

Allen Bloom is Sommer's defense attorney.

Bloom: They hid evidence. They knew that there was evidence that could have exonerated Cynthia Sommer, and they turned their back on it.

Prosecutors say the defense tested the same tissue samples and got the same results, and that no one raised any objections before trial.

Andrew Phelps, KPBS News.

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