Toxicology expert, Dr. Fessessework Guale, has been accused of lying on the stand. The cases in which Dr. Guale has testified are now in jeopardy.
Dr. Guale claimed to have a Masters of Science degree in Toxicology from Oklahoma State University. However, according to a notice sent by the Harris County District Attorney’s office, “Dr. Fessessework Guale of the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences may have testified in past trials that she received her Master’s (sic) of Science degree in Toxicology when, in fact, she received her Master’s (sic) of Science degree in Physiological Sciences (with coursework and research in toxicology).” The District Attorney’s Office is now requesting that defense attorneys review 10 years of their DWI cases to search for erroneous testimony from Dr. Guale.
Dr. Guale’s resume shows that her degree is from a veterinary college and that her doctorate is in veterinary medicine from an Ethiopian veterinary school. Guale has been employed since 2006 with the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences, which is the county’s medical examiner’s office. The Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences says that its hiring manager should have noticed Dr. Guale’s degree discrepancies on her resume and job applications. That manager left the office before this controversy surfaced.
Jeff McShan, spokesperson for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, has stated that prosecutors are still trying to determine how many cases Guale testified in as an expert. Records from the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences show that Guale has testified in 33 cases dating back to 2011.
Responding to the questions about her credentials, Guale stated, “I did not lie. It’s just a misunderstanding. I actually told the truth.” When questioned about her claim to have a Masters in toxicology, she responded, “My Masters is in Physiological Sciences which toxicology is a sub-discipline of.” Guale also noted that she is board certified in forensic toxicology and claims that the basic science behind the effects of alcohol is the same in animals and humans. Guale’s expert witness testimony has been about defendants’ blood alcohol content.
The Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association (HCCLA) is requesting that criminal charges be brought against Guale for perjury. Commenting on Guale’s resume, HCCLA President Tyler Flood has stated, “That’s a lie, she has a masters in physiological sciences… But when you look closer it doesn’t relate to humans.” Flood also opined, “It’s very disturbing because there are people who are charged with felony offenses … and they can be convicted and go to jail or prison based on her testimony. And she’s not qualified to be talking about this subject.”
The Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences stated that Guale is being retrained and that it remains confident in her abilities. It has stood behind Guale, stating that she has taken part in continuing education in forensic toxicology and “has earned certification by the American Board of Forensic Toxicology reflecting her knowledge, training, and experience in forensic toxicology… Dr. Fessessework Guale is fully qualified to hold her current position … and to provide expert testimony in court.”