“Admissible: Shreds of Evidence” Investigates Controversial Era of Forensic Science at Virginia Crime Lab

New 12-episode podcast explores how the work of forensic scientists led to wrongful convictions and the role of evidence in the criminal justice system


Without confidence in evidence, our faith in the criminal legal system crumbles. A new investigative podcast co-produced by VPM, Story Mechanics and iHeartPodcasts is shining a light on how evidence itself is often flawed, disputed or even manipulated.

Admissible: Shreds of Evidence” looks back at how evidence testing went awry at the Virginia state crime lab in the 1970s and 80s, and the ramifications that continue to the present day. Hosted by reporter Tessa Kramer, “Admissible” premieres February 7.

In the first season of “Admissible: Shreds of Evidence,” Kramer investigates the story of 13 men who were exonerated thanks to the miraculous discovery of biological evidence that had been preserved by forensic scientist Mary Jane Burton and stashed away for decades in a Virginia records facility. Burton was hailed as a hero for saving the evidence. Many speculated that she’d foreseen a future in which DNA testing could deliver more accurate convictions and clear the innocent. But when a former coworker disputes that narrative, a pattern of questionable practices and shadowy motives begins to emerge.

“In so many stories about the criminal legal system, forensic science is one chapter in a bigger story – one scene in a police procedural or one episode in a true crime podcast,” said Kramer. “What I love about our first season of 'Admissible’ is that the crime lab is the story, and the people who work in the lab are the main characters. Through my reporting, I’ve learned so much about what actually happens in a forensic lab, and I hope that listeners – especially true crime lovers – will come away with new questions about evidence and proof.”

Kramer has spent several years as a reporter and narrative audio producer. Her interest in the criminal legal system stemmed from her work on the CNN documentary series Death Row Stories. While she was pursuing her master's degree from Columbia Journalism School, Kramer began reporting on the story that would eventually become “Admissible: Shreds of Evidence.”

“Admissible” will also feature reporting from VPM News reporter Ben Paviour and editor Whittney Evans.

"Working on ‘Admissible,’ I combed through gubernatorial archives, dug into forgotten forensic reports and interviewed U.S. senators,” said Paviour. “I dug deep into the story of Earl Washington, Jr. -- an innocent man who came within nine days of being executed because of bad policing, shoddy forensics and fraught politics. The series shows how our most trusted crime-fighting tools can't escape the shortcomings of the people and society using them."

Admissible: Shreds of Evidence” is distributed by iHeartPodcasts. New episodes of will be released weekly on Tuesdays on iHeartRadio and everywhere podcasts are heard. For more information, visit admissiblepodcast.com.

About VPM
As Virginia’s home for public media, VPM connects nearly 2 million people across Central Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley to insightful programming in arts and culture, history, science, news and education. VPM operates public television stations VPM PBS, VPM Plus, VPM PBS KIDS, lifestyle channel VPM Create and international program channel VPM WORLD, as well as Richmond NPR station VPM News (88.9 FM) and VPM Music (107.3 FM, 93.1 FM and 88.9-HD2). In the Northern Neck (89.1 FM) and Southside Virginia (90.1 FM), listeners receive a combination of news and music. Audiences can access VPM online at VPM.org and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

About iHeartMedia, Inc.

iHeartMedia (NASDAQ: IHRT) is the number one audio company in the United States, reaching nine out of 10 Americans every month. It consists of three business groups.

With its quarter of a billion monthly listeners, the iHeartMedia Multiplatform Group has a greater reach than any other media company in the U.S. Its leadership position in audio extends across multiple platforms, including more than 860 live broadcast stations in over 160 markets nationwide; its National Sales organization; and the company’s live and virtual events business. It also includes Premiere Networks, the industry’s largest Networks business, with its Total Traffic and Weather Network (TTWN); and BIN: Black Information Network, the first and only 24/7 national and local all news audio service for the Black community. iHeartMedia also leads the audio industry in analytics, targeting and attribution for its marketing partners with its SmartAudio suite of data targeting and attribution products using data from its massive consumer base.

The iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group includes the company’s fast-growing podcasting business -- iHeartMedia is the number one podcast publisher in downloads, unique listeners, revenue and earnings -- as well as its industry-leading iHeartRadio digital service, available across more than 500 platforms and 2,000 devices; the company’s digital sites, newsletters, digital services and programs; its digital advertising technology companies; and its audio industry-leading social media footprint.

The company’s Audio & Media Services reportable segment includes Katz Media Group, the nation’s largest media representation company, and RCS, the world's leading provider of broadcast and webcast software.

Visit iHeartMedia.com for more company information.