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Amber Tuttle

Other Nevada exonerations
Shortly before 8 a.m. on September 16, 2011, police stopped a car at the intersection of South Torres Pines Drive and West Tropicana Avenue in Las Vegas, Nevada for failing to have a left sideview mirror.

When the driver, 21-year-old Amber Tuttle, opened her door to search for her driver’s license, a police officer spotted a “four-inch long glass smoking pipe with a green, leafy substance in the bowl” on the floorboard near Tuttle’s right foot.

The officer asked Tuttle and other passengers to get out of the car. The officer later reported that he saw Tuttle move the pipe to a maroon handbag. When he asked her about it, she replied, “It is just my pipe,” the officer reported.

Tuttle then consented to a search of the car and the maroon bag was opened. The officer said he found three “glass jars with a crystal-like substance that weighed 20.2 gross grams.” The powder was field tested and the result was positive for cocaine.

Tuttle was charged with possession of a controlled substance. On August 14, 2012, Tuttle pled guilty in Clark County District Court to a misdemeanor charge of possession of cocaine. She was sentenced to a non-custodial penalty.

In October 2016, ProPublica, an independent nonprofit investigative news organization, published an article titled, “Unreliable and Unchallenged.” The article detailed how in 2014 the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department had documented how field tests had produced false positive test results. At times, the results were wrong and at other times, officers misinterpreted negative results as positive findings.

However, the department continued to use the unreliable form of testing, the report said.

Following the publication of the article, the newly formed Conviction Integrity Unit at the Clark County District Attorney’s Office began reviewing cases cited in the 2014 report as having erroneous field test findings based on subsequent laboratory tests that were negative for the presence of controlled substances.

A total of five cases, including Tuttle’s, were identified in which the defendants had pled guilty to the charges and subsequent laboratory tests were negative for the presence of any controlled substance.

On March 6, 2017, the prosecution filed a motion to vacate Tuttle’s conviction and then dismissed the case. The other four cases also were vacated and dismissed.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 6/30/2020
Last Updated: 6/30/2020
Most Serious Crime:Drug Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2011
Age at the date of reported crime:21
Contributing Factors:False or Misleading Forensic Evidence
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No