Joseph Kopera, head of the Maryland State Police firearms unit committed suicide after he was caught lying about his credentials. He was confronted with evidence he had lied about his credentials in many criminal trials, in both Maryland and neighboring states. Kopera had claimed, under oath, he had college degrees he had never earned.
The top prosecutor in Baltimore County said they would have to review cases that included Kopera’s testimony. Defense attorneys say this revelation about Kopera’s background could force new trials for hundreds of people he helped convict.
Public defenders working for the Maryland Innocence Project raised questions about the longtime firearms and toolmarks examiner’s credentials. Michele Nethercott, chief of the group, said Kopera not only claimed to have degrees had hadn’t earned, but he had forged at least one document to justify his qualifications.
A former Anne Arundel County assistant state’s attorney said that “the potential problem cannot be overstated. Every case he has ever been involved in is open to question”