More examples of sub-standard death investigations by law enforcement – evidence ignored and bias from the beginning

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This case has parents suing a Coroners Office to reopen their daughter’s death investigation. They argue that the actual crime scene was never processed and the circumstances of the young woman’s death raise significant questions regarding the death being suspicious.

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Battle for freedom in another bitemark conviction heats up – DNA evidence from crime scene including murder weapon #AAFS

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The John Kunco case in Pennsylvania goes back in my case archives for over 12 years. Early in Mr. Kunco’s post conviction appeals, the opinions of two famous bitemark experts ( at least as far as they are concerned ) used at trial have been re-analyzed, excoriated and explicitly considered junk. A cohort of very dedicated appellate attorneys have worked his case. That would be Craig Cooley, Dana Delgar, and Chris Fabricant of the Innocence Projects.

In November 2017, over the protests of the Prosecutors (after all they had the bitemark evidence; recently recanted by the two prosecution dentists), advanced DNA testing on crime evidence (including the murder weapon) was approved.

Plan to hear more on these testing results very soon. I’ve been told an unknown male profile was developed in this new testing.

Here is the article from November announcing the successful DNA motion by the Innocence Project.

This blog has had a few things to say about Kunco’s bitemark identifier.

  1. How Bitemark evidence is still operating at the appellate level – The Kunco Case
  2. Forensics: 2d bitemark opinion in the John Kunco case. Where is justice for him? #ADA
  3. Another ridiculous bitemark case emerges into public view after 30+ years
Posted in AAFS, ABFO, Bite Marks, Bitemarks, DNA profiling, forensic science reform protecting the innocent | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sloppy and incompetent cop forensic experts at it again in the Holtzclaw case. #AAFS #Junk #Forensics

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Holtzclaw is an ex-cop accused and convicted of numerous sexual assaults under the color of authority. The State’s DNA case against him lacks a serious amount of due process and quality control.  This article has recontructionist Brent Turvey talking about how a police officer’s bare hands transferred some DNA of Holtzclaw into an evidence bag.  That’s all it takes to contaminate. The State experts say it never happens.

More looks into this case.

Deleted police crime lab emails reach 4000. 

Video interview show about Holtzclaw’s case after his conviction.

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Molecular determining Time of Death (TOD) gets some News – #AAFS #Forensics

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All of this is very interesting, but is not yet ready for Prime Time by any means. Humoral changes after death are many and extremely varied. Of course, DNA structures are now being looked at the University of Perth, Australia, in Spain and elsewhere.

Another current look at “gene expression” research in TOD research.

Here’s the old-school look at TOD determinations.

More comments on a ‘mathematical’ approach to the many factors being studied.

Here’s a case from a previous blog on how TOD can be botched at the initial crime scene and then allows Prosecutors to spin their stories at trial. 

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Anti-PCAST District Attorney Says Bitemark Analysis Opponents Are “Flawed”

Non-science Prosecutors like to exaggerate quite a lot when their past convictions used junk science. Their understanding of “science” really means that the old methods still work. Just like the “Flat-Earthers” from the Middle Ages.

FORENSICS and LAW in FOCUS @ CSIDDS | News and Trends

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This National DA Assoc president works in San Bernardino County, among other things a place where bitemarks helped put an innocent Bill Richards in prison for 23 years.


Ramos (campaigning for California’s Attorney General post and pro death penalty) has a sterling opinion about bitemark “matching.” Here is his and his org’s “final” 7 page response to the President’s Science Council’s Report. The part about teeth is excerpted below in italics.

As a colleague of mine puts it (in bold):

The NDAA letter to PCAST grossly overstates the success of testimony against University of Buffalo bitemark studies. Never were the studies “thoroughly discredited in court.” Almost similar to saying the possibility of someone else having the same dentition as “one in a million”. The rest of  the commentary is also interesting, including the use of specialized computer programs ( Adobe Photoshop? ) to perform analysis.

Forensic Odontology

Forensic dentists…

View original post 350 more words

Posted in AAFS, ABFO, Bite Marks, costs of wrongful convictions, forensic science reform protecting the innocence, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

UK judicial system seems to be strangling on budget cuts and court closures

Of course , this is just the tip of the iceberg, as Internet savvy barristers talk about being pressured to accept cases for very little reimbursement. Automation in scheduling appearances, testimony and adjudication by non-lawyers in petty cases describes a much disjointed jumble. The “Lord Chancellors of Justice” have been political appointees for the most part. This article below says that has recently changed.

Another side of Justice in the UK involves forensics privatization, dependence on outside vendors, and problems with quality control and standards that mirrors events in the US.

UK Criminal Justice in the UK at a breaking point after years of unstable leadership. 

Here’s a lingering forensic scandal in the UK that involves a private vendor messing around with over 6000 crime scene specimens. 

This article says the number of suspect conviction cases exceeds 10,000. 

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Anti-Junk forensics legislation continues to use bitemark “identifications” in the battle against false convictions.


Keith Harvard. Conviction in 1982. Released in 2016.

So far, two states in the US have generated new laws which allow inmates to contest dubious, outmoded or outright false claims of forensic ‘experts’ used to aid their convictions.

Texas and California legislatures used false arson and bitemarkers exaggerated and unsupported claims of “science” to expand the appellate courts’ considering claims of erroneous conviction and imprisonment.

Today, the state of Virginia is working towards being the third. Keith Harvard’s release from decades of incarceration again puts the focus on bitemark gurus.  

The above article declares bitemark identification to be, “now known to be completely erroneous.”

California’s legislation was produced from Bill Richards.

The Texas case came from Steven Chaney.

All these bitemark cases had senior and self-proclaimed distinguished members of the US bitemark group, the American Board of Forensic Odontology (dentistry) as prosecution experts.  Incredibly, this bunch is sponsoring a bitemark training session at the upcoming American Academy of Forensic Sciences convention in Seattle.

List of Exonerations involving false bitemarker testimony is here:  The Innocence Project Bite Mark Exonerations and Arrests



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“The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist” coming your way.

The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist: A True Story of Injustice in the American South by [Balko, Radley, Carrington, Tucker]

Its time to sign up for Radley and Tucker’s book about the forensic disaster that continues to plague the criminal courts of the state of Mississippi. Here is a recent review. The book does a good job in spreading the story beyond the Les Miserable-style  hired-gun- experts (a MD and a DDS) to the prosecutorial system’s armor of self-protection, impunity to justice, and immunity from consequences. The story is still active. This blog has covered alot of it.

Search this blog for keywords:

Brooks, bitemarks, Hayne, West, Brewer, Howard, exonerations, junk science, Forrest Allgood, Radley Balko

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Insufficient response from Insurer regarding smoke, ash and char damage #ThomasFire #Insurance #StateFarm

This is just a short synopsis on what I have learned from personal experience during the Thomas Fire in Ventura, CA. My residence insurer is State Farm. All the following facts are documented and true. There is little to do when an insurance company refuses to negotiate reasonable requests the owner provides along with  estimates from commercial restoration companies. Blogging about it seems quixotic.

  • Our residence experienced smoke damage. The fire came within 35 feet of the east facing of the structure; winds were in excess of 70mph; adjacent houses were totally destroyed.
  • One window in our residence was dislodged and numerous other windows allowed smoke, ash and char to invade the entire structure.
  • State Farm’s adjuster performed a site inspection. No particulate testing was done. The adjuster “eyeballed” for the presence of contaminants. He allowed certain rooms as being “clear” of damage and the remainder as having “soot.”
  • The State Farm estimate for restoration amounted to $14,000 including costs for food, utilities, and rent of a trailer while we are evacuated. We are starting our 3rd month in a  trailer outside of Ventura.  Our damaged house has 2400 sf.
  • We contacted numerous commercial service companies in order to rectify the damage to the house. These vendors all did their own inspections with written estimates. The total amount of the estimates are over $50K.
  • Due to State Farm’s inadequate response, all dates for these services to be performed have been stalled.
  • State Farm has failed to accept any of these estimates using such terms as “potentially fraudulent” and declaring them “excessive and suspect.” State Farm has also failed to negotiate with any of these licensed contractors.
  • State Farm expected us to return to the home on Jan 4, 2018 regardless of the dispute we previously documented from the outset of this process. Its statement that money originally advanced was sufficient to cover all costs. Our deductible is $5200. The advance was $9,000 given on December 6, 2017. According to the State farm adjuster then in charge,  the net owed us owed  by State Farm to be approximately $230. The following statement was made by the adjuster: “Just give us more estimates if something comes up.”
  • The estimates given have all been ignored.
  • Analytical testing of the interior of the residence was requested by the insured months ago. State Farm hired their own “hygienist” company a few weeks ago. Testing results go directly to State Farm Inc. The results are now overdue.
  • I have filed a Complaint with the Department of Insurance. The document is a composite of a number of updates I have provided the DOI.   Apparently the DOI has no enforcement powers and promises to “intercede” in our behalf during negotiations. Obviously, none of this has happened to date.


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Forensics: Taking apart the “science” of matching objects and patterns to innocent defendants

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An extensive review of forensic exaggerations brought into criminal courts. Only two US states have statutes allowing appellate review of cases where junk forensic experts run amok. 


“The legal concept of newly discovered evidence including a change in science,” says Chris Fabricant of the Innocence Project, who is litigating Genrich’s case, “is in my view a no-brainer. It was presented to a jury as infallible, and today we know it’s not. There is an obligation—an ethical, a legal, and a moral obligation—to go back and correct the record where exaggerated claims may have led to a miscarriage of justice.” When Bert Nieslanik called up the statistician on a hunch that the science was flawed, she was a voice in the wilderness. There was no scientific consensus to support her. Fabricant says that “in a way, she was ahead of her time.”

“Calculating how many people might be incarcerated based on erroneous “matches” is notoriously difficult, but according to the Innocence Project, faulty forensic science is a factor in about half of wrongful convictions. More conservative estimates from the National Registry of Exonerations and from academic studies peg the number at between 24 and 34 percent. Many prosecutors and judges, however, insist there is no problem and that wrongful convictions are vanishingly rare. In 2007, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia cited a prosecutor claiming courts convict with an “error rate of 0.027 percent—or a success rate of 99.973 percent.” The prosecutor had divided the number of known exonerations over a 15-year period (a few hundred) by the total number of felony convictions in that period (15 million). It is wildly unlikely, however, that all wrongful convictions have been discovered. One academic study estimates that in capital cases—which receive far more post-conviction scrutiny than do other cases—one in 25 people set to be executed will have been wrongfully convicted. However you crunch the numbers, they are appallingly high, and could mean that thousands of people are behind bars partly because juries were swayed by unproven ”science.” ”

Full article from The Nation

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