Evidence-planting scandal still taking a toll
Joe Jordan | Nebraska Watchdog
As the FBI pours over thousands of crimes across the country where mistakes—pointed out in a Washington Post investigation— may have resulted in the convictions of innocent people, you may be wondering whatever happened to David Kofoed.
Well Kofoed, Douglas County’s former top crime scene investigator who spent time in prison following an evidence-planting scandal, is still making headlines and is the subject of a new book.
A federal court recently ordered Kofoed, who claims he’s broke, to pay $6.5 million in damages to Matthew Livers and Nick Sampson. The two, who may never see a *dime from Kofoed, were wrongly jailed following the shotgun murders of Wayne and Sharmon Stock of Murdock, Neb.
Livers and Sampson received $2.6 million in settlements with the State Patrol, Douglas County and Cass County.
The ins and outs of the Kofoed case are detailed by former Omaha investigative reporter-turned author, John Ferak.
Here are two excerpts from Ferak’s recently released book, “Bloody Lies.”
The fallout from Kofoed’s evidence-planting scandal may take many more years to wind through Nebraska’ criminal justice system. Astonishingly, the prospect of any meaningful independent audit probing Kofoed’s casework appears unlikely. It fell beyond the scope of the Nebraska Supreme Court’s jurisdiction to appoint an independent committee to investigate the work of Kofoed and others within the Douglas County CSI unit, the court’s justices ruled in 2012.
Theoretically, elected officials in Douglas County could appoint an independent blue-ribbon commission, impanel a grand jury, or hire an outside team of fact-finding forensic experts to conduct a full-scale audit of Kofoed’s work. But that scenario has not occurred and probably never will. There remains a huge political disincentive for Douglas County Sheriff Tim Dunning, Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine or other elected members of the Douglas County Board to reopen the Dave Kofoed can of worms by revisiting his past cases in the hopes of finding other transgressions where he abused his power.
Meanwhile, the Omaha World-Herald is reporting that Kofoed wasn’t the only investigator who crossed the line, noting the $2.6 million settlement requires Douglas County to undergo special interrogation training.
Kofoed’s case has also tied up plans to merge the Omaha Police Department’s crime lab with the Douglas County Sheriff’s lab.
The money saving move was delayed three years ago when then-Police Chief Alex Hayes told Nebraska Watchdog the county’s reputation was badly tainted. “Their director got arrested, that’s a problem,” said Hayes. “Integrity means a lot to us.”
In a recent statement to Nebraska Watchdog, Chief Todd Schmaderer simply said, “We last met with DCSO on June 27th and continue productive discussions.”
Contact Joe Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joe can be heard on Omaha’s KFAB radio every Monday at 7:40 a.m. and KHAS-AM in Hastings every Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.
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