Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

Gary Vinsonhaler, Jr.

Other Drug Cases Where No Crime Was Committed
https://www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/PublishingImages/Multnomah_%20County.jpg
On March 22, 2012, police in Portland, Oregon arrested 45-year-old Gary Vinsonhaler, Jr. after they confiscated a substance from him that field-tested positive for the presence of heroin.

On March 29, 2012, Vinsonhaler pled guilty in Multnomah County Circuit Court to possession of a controlled substance. He was sentenced to probation.

The Oregon State Police crime laboratory later tested the seized substance but detected no controlled substance. The report, however, was placed in the closed case file and went unnoticed.

In 2016, the New York Times Magazine published an article about faulty field tests written by reporters from ProPublica, an independent investigative journalism website. The article focused on scores of defendants who pled guilty in Harris County, Texas, based on faulty field tests and were later exonerated by negative lab tests.

Prompted by the article, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s office conviction integrity unit checked cases in which defendants pled guilty drug possession since 2010. They discovered five cases—Vinsonhaler, Steven Ash, Derek Luckovich, Marlin Hayes, and Andre Mazur—where defendants had pled guilty and subsequent lab tests were negative for the presence of any controlled substance.

In July 2016, the District Attorney’s office instituted a policy that “All controlled substance based prosecutions must be accompanied by a request for, and report of, confirmatory testing from the Oregon State Police (OSP) Forensic Laboratory for the presence of a controlled substance."

In October and November 2016, the District Attorney's Office moved to vacate the four convictions. The court granted the motions and the prosecution dismissed the charges against Luckovich, Hayes, Vinsonhaler, Mazur and Ash.

– Maurice Possley

Report an error or add more information about this case.

Posting Date: 12/9/2016
State:Oregon
County:Multnomah
Most Serious Crime:Drug Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2012
Convicted:2012
Exonerated:2016
Sentence:Probation
Race:Caucasian
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:45
Contributing Factors:False or Misleading Forensic Evidence
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No