Advocate group criticizes use of scent-lineups

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Later today, the Innocence Project of Texas will ask police departments across the state to stop using scent line- ups.

The procedure involves using dogs, bloodhounds specifically, to detect scents from a crime scene and match them to a suspect. But some say the procedure has led to false accusations.

This afternoon, the Innocence Project of Texas plans to release a report denouncing the use of scent line-ups at a press conference as junk science and asking police departments across the state to stop using them.

The line-ups work by having dogs sniff through several various cans. One has the smell of a potential suspect, the rest have scents of people not linked to the crime. The dog has to pick the right one.


Andrea Lucia

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Later today, the Innocence Project of Texas will ask police departments across the state to stop using scent line- ups.

The procedure involves using dogs, bloodhounds specifically, to detect scents from a crime scene and match them to a suspect. But some say the procedure has led to false accusations.

This afternoon, the Innocence Project of Texas plans to release a report denouncing the use of scent line-ups at a press conference as junk science and asking police departments across the state to stop using them.

The line-ups work by having dogs sniff through several various cans. One has the smell of a potential suspect, the rest have scents of people not linked to the crime. The dog has to pick the right one.
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Those who use the system say it is almost always accurate, but the Innocence Project will be addressing the work of Fort Bend County sheriff's deputy Keith Pikett, whose dogs have in more than one case wrongfully implicated innocent people. That includes Michael Buchanek, a former Victoria County sheriff's detective who served in Iraq. A few months after returning home a woman he was friends with was murdered.

Pikett's dogs allegedly picked up Buchanek's scent on the body and his former colleagues accused him of murder.

"They started talking about the dogs. They had followed the scent to my house and they knew I'd done it and the dogs don't lie," said Buchanek.

Former Assistant District Attorney Victor Wisner claims Pikett's dogs lead detectives to wrongfully charge someone in a burglary case he prosecuted. In this affidavit, he says the scent evidence was ludicrous and incriminated someone unrelated to the offenses.

He also claims he sent an email to all other prosecutors, warning them about this. The Harris County district attorney's office told us it had no information on the unreliability of Deputy Pikett on file.

Our requests for an interview with Deputy Pikett were declined.

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