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Resigned CBI forensic scientist is involved in 75 criminal cases in El Paso County

El PASO COUNTY, Colo. (KRDO) -- A 29-year veteran forensic scientist from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has resigned in place of termination after "anomalies" were found in her DNA testing, the CBI says. KRDO13 Investigates is learning her work is now connected 75 cases in El Paso County, according to the 4th Judicial District Attorney's Office.

The 4th Judicial District Attorney's office is now working to determine what she role played in those cases. It is not fully known if her work as a forensic scientist will be a hinderance to any of the cases.

Yvonne "Missy" Woods is described in newly obtained internal records from CBI as a "criminal investigator in the biological forensic sciences" part of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. Records show she had been with CBI since 1994 and was getting paid $9,432 monthly as an employee for CBI.

Woods resigned on November 6, making that her "retirement" was because she was soon to be terminated. Her resignation was signed by CBI Director Chris Schaefer.

What the specific "anomalies" were in Woods' DNA testing remains unclear. CBI says they were discovered "while reviewing a sampling of cases as part of an internal process."

"I hope it's not altering DNA. That means she could be charged with felonies and potentially go to prison and stuff," former 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler said. "I hope it's an anomaly like, oh, I forgot to carry a 2, or I licked clean the beaker instead of using a sterile one or something. If it's something like manipulating evidence with a goal of conviction in mind on some of these cases, we got a much, much different problem here."

Woods is now subject to an internal affairs and criminal investigation. The IA investigation will be conducted by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, and the CBI is working to find an outside agency to conduct the criminal investigation.

In internal records obtained by KRDO13 Investigates, Wood's work was subject to a performance review between July and Sept. 2023, two months before she resigned. In that review, Woods was given an "exceptional" rating by other criminal investigators and CBI Laboratory Manager, Carrie Davis.

The 4th Judicial District Attorney's office, led by elected DA Michael Allen, says they received a letter from CBI in recent weeks that informed them of the investigation into Woods. Allen's office says defense attorney's will be able to review the letter if any of their clients are affected.

The effects of Woods' resignation and the subsequent investigation into her work are playing much less of a role in cases in Pueblo County. District Attorney Jeff Chostner says there is only one active case that Woods played a role in investigating.

The reason for this, according to Chostner, is much of their DNA testing by CBI is completed at a lab in Pueblo West. According to CBI records, Woods worked out of a CBI crime lab in Aurora, Colorado.

KRDO13 Investigates reached out to Ryan Brackley, defense attorney for Missy Woods. He issued the following statement on her behalf:

Ms. Woods has been a loyal and dedicated forensic scientist with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation for close to 30 years. She’s worked with and trained generations of prosecutors, scientists and law enforcement agents over those years. Ms. Woods expects nothing less than a full, complete, and professional investigation into these allegations and has already communicated her intent to cooperate with CBI’s inquiry into identifying any anomalies in her work. Ms. Woods stands by the reliability and integrity of her work on matters that were filed in court, and particularly in cases in which she testified in court under oath.

Ryan Brackley -- Missy Woods' Defense Attorney

Brauchler says defense attorneys across the state are likely conducting their own investigation into how Woods' testing may have impacted the cases involving their clients. He expects motions to be filed in several criminal cases by defense attorneys alleging that Woods' involvement in DNA testing on their cases impacted it in some way.

"They're going to have to go to court and say, judge, here's why we need to undo the outcome on this plea or we need to undo the outcome on this trial outcome, this verdict," Brauchler explained. "That doesn't mean it's going to happen, But do I think there will be motions filed? Yeah."

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Sean Rice

Sean is reporter with the 13 Investigates team. Learn more about him here.


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