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Evidence at OWI trial established sufficient chain of custody of blood sample

City of Berlin v. Ricardo A. Adame, 2017AP2130, District 2, 4/18/18 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity (including briefs)

There was a sufficient chain of custody evidence to conclude that the blood-alcohol test results offered into evidence by the state related to blood samples taken from Adame.

Whether there’s sufficient evidence to establish chain of custody of an item of physical evidence is a matter for the trial court’s discretion. State v. McCoy, 2007 WI App 15, ¶8, 298 Wis. 2d 523, 728 N.W.2d 54 (2006); B.A.C. v. T.L.G., 135 Wis. 2d 280, 290, 400 N.W.2d 48 (Ct. App. 1986). Evidence regarding a chain of custody “must be sufficiently complete so as to render it improbable that the original item has been exchanged, contaminated or tampered with.” B.A.C., 135 Wis. 2d at 290. The evidence here met this basic test:

¶15     ….[T]he medical technologist testified that at approximately 3:26 a.m. on August 7, 2016, she drew two tubes of Adame’s blood and filled out portions of Exhibit 4 in conjunction with that blood draw. She placed a label over the top of each tube and then wrapped a label around each tube, which labels contained Adame’s name, the date, the time, and her own initials. The materials were packaged up, the officer sealed the box in Adame’s presence, and then gave the box to the administrative assistant at her department “to be mailed to the state hygiene lab.” Exhibit 4 and the chemist supervisor’s testimony indicate the blood samples and the blood/urine analysis form related to Adame (the latter of which became Exhibit 4) were received by Randy Boyes at the hygiene laboratory on August 9, 2016, and verified by laboratory analyst Laura Sweeney on August 10, 2016. The exhibit and the supervisor’s testimony also indicate the blood samples were analyzed by Sweeney the following day and showed an ethanol result of “0.156 grams per one hundred milliliters,” which result was recorded on Exhibit 4.

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