Trial records and memoranda to this reporter from trial observers at Gates' trial in 1982, reveal that key testimony came from FBI forensic analyst Michael Malone who said that Gates' pubic hairs were "microscopically indistinguishable" from hairs found on the victim's body.
On September 16, 1982, Gates was convicted. He was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.
In 1997, a scathing internal review of the FBI laboratory was conducted by the DOJ Inspector General, who found that Malone and other analysts made false reports on cases across the country and performed inaccurate laboratory tests.
In January 2002, the U.S. Justice Department sent a letter to prosecutors in the case, informing them that Malone's lab report was not supported by his notes and advising them to determine whether the defense should be notified. The defense was not notified.
In 2007, Gates sought DNA testing again. Two years later, the request was granted and the tests, conducted on a sample of biological evidence found at the District of Columbia medical examiner's office, eliminated him as the killer and rapist.
So a grievous miscarriage of justice was arguably corrected, albeit far too late. Nonetheless, it was a bittersweet moment for Gates, who was released on December 15, 2009 -- after 27 years in prison.
On December 18, 2009, the charges were dismissed. Gates was given $75 and a bus ticket to Ohio.
But the joy for the system was short-lived. The reason is that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people had possibly been unlawfully tried and sentenced partly based on the junk science that applies to all forensics, with the exception of DNA. In Gates's case, the analysis of his single hair was the only physical evidence introduced in court, and thus probably heavily responsible for his conviction.
In the many other trials that took place across the country before, during and after the Gates case, the approach to forensics had not changed. Forensic "scientists" were still intent on stretching a flimsy spandex shield over a mountain of unscientific interpretation.