I have written a number of entries over the last couple of months about the case of Donald E. Gates, a man who was imprisoned for 27 years for a crime the evidence now shows he did not commit. Gates was convicted in large part on the basis of false testimony by FBI analyst Michael P. Malone.
Donald Gates, as it turns out, is not the only person to have been wrongly convicted on the basis of Malone’s testimony. In 2001, for example, the government notified the defense lawyers of Anthony E. Bragdon that Malone had testified falsely in the trial that led to Bragdon’s conviction for rape in 1992. Malone’s testimony on carpet fibers found on the victim’s clothing was the only scientific evidence linking Bragdon to the offense.
Ten years into Bragdon’s sentence, prosecutors disclosed to Bragdon’s lawyers that Malone had testified falsely as to other possible sources of fibers found on the victim’s clothing. Malone had also failed to perform the necessary tests supporting his conclusion that the fibers found on the victim’s clothing probably came from Bragdon’s carpet.
Gates and Bragdon were eventually freed as the result of an FBI investigation in the 1990s that arose out of a whistleblower’s allegations questioning the tactics of Malone and 12 other FBI analysts. The AP has reported that despite the identification of over 3,000 suspect cases, only 150 defendants have been notified of problems. And, as I have noted earlier, Gates was not released until December 2009.
In addition to the Gates and Bragdon cases, Malone testified in the John Hinckley, Bobby Joe Long, and Alcee Hastings cases. Malone also played a key role, as I will describe in future entries, in the Jeffrey MacDonald case.