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Criminal freed over Mass. lab scandal skips court

Associated Press Modified: October 5, 2012 at 2:17 am •  Published: October 5, 2012

BOSTON (AP) — Career criminal Marcus Pixley got a break when his bail was reduced after allegations that a state police lab chemist put thousands of drug cases like his in jeopardy by mishandling samples.

Now Pixley appears to have seized on that opportunity: After posting the lower $1,000 bail, he failed to show up for a scheduled court hearing on Wednesday. Pixley has become a fugitive in the latest fallout from the lab scandal.

On Friday, judges in Boston Municipal Court were scheduled to hear about 19 other cases from defendants whose cases may be impacted by the state drug investigation. The defendants are currently in custody in the House of Correction.

Pixley, 52, was awaiting trial in a 2011 arrest on charges of possession and distribution of crack cocaine and resisting arrest. His lawyer successfully argued this month that his bail should be lowered because the drugs in his case were tested by Annie Dookhan, a chemist charged with obstruction of justice and accused of faking test results, skipping protocols and mixing drug samples at a now-closed state lab.

After he failed to show up for his court hearing, a Suffolk Superior Court judge issued a warrant for his arrest.

Prosecutors opposed Pixley's bail reduction, arguing that he was being prosecuted as a habitual offender. He has a criminal record dating to 1977 — including rape, armed robbery, assault and battery, larceny and drug convictions.

Suffolk District Attorney Dan Conley said prosecutors in his office have agreed to reduce bail and put sentences on hold for more than a dozen defendants since the lab was shut down a month ago. But he said they will continue to argue against bail reductions for career criminals or violent offenders, as they did in Pixley's case.

"One thing has become very clear: The defendants who stand to benefit most from the DPH lab disaster aren't low-level, non-violent drug users. They're moving large quantities of drugs, they've got long records or they're violent offenders," Conley said.

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