#Forensic #Exoneration in NJ rejects bitemark IDs but NY still uses bitemark proofs in upcoming trial.

Why does the US judicial system, (adhering to its fragmented and often contradictory judicial opinions) and still claiming to be the protector of human rights and life and liberty of its citizens, put up with a defective product known to cause erroneous judicial outcomes? Recent bitemark acceptance in a NYC court  allowed bite mark dentists into an upcoming murder trial. The NY judge stated bite mark evidence “comports” with the established rules of evidence for the state. New York courts use the Frye standard, which got rid of lie detectors in court in 1923. This was “cutting edge”  ………90 years ago….

That means the bitemark dentists will say the “bitemark matches the defendant’s teeth.”  Just as effective as a DNA match?  Yes it is unless the judge limits what these dentists can testify about in front of the jury.

Let’s take a short trip across the river from the Manhattan trial, and observe something about bite marks that has occurred in New Jersey criminal court.

A New Jersey criminal defendant has just been exonerated of murder after a post-conviction hearing. Its been decades since the original trial. The defendant in this new hearing demanded his release arguing new DNA evidence should exonerate him and release him from prison. The DA vigorously objected to the defendant’s attorney, Vanessa Potkin of the NY Innocence Project, claims of “actual innocence.” The DA had bite mark evidence (from the original trial) supporting the defendant’s guilt and criminality from a dentist.

19 years ago, a bitemark “match” was the equivalent of a DNA “match” in the forensic parlance. It is still being argued that way in the New York case which is coming to trial.

The NJ DA stated in rebuttal at the hearing  that unknown male DNA profiles taken from the victim’s body (fingernails and sexual assault kit) were insufficient to overturn a second conviction based on assault (remembering the bitemark). The NJ court of appeals had earlier accepted the DNA as exonerating proof of the murder charge regardless of the dentist at the original trial stating “Mr. Richardson bit the victim.”

It appears that in NJ higher court does not accept bitemark identification as independent proof of murder. Unless you are a District Attorney.

The NJ DA’s dentist is an ABFO member and a colleague of Dr. Lowell Levine of Albany New York. In fact Dr. Levine has recently been educating police investigators in particular cases using bite mark evidence. In this link, he describes to the audience about his method of “adjusting” bite  mark images due to discrepancies between the defendant and the bitemark evidence. That is absolutely a no no in the field of pattern analysis as there is no literature validating this technique.

The NY DA has also called upon the ABFOs finest to argue the validity of bitemark identification.

What a difference a few miles make in how the US judiciary interprets forensic “science.”

 
Read the comments from the NJ defendant now out on bail.
http://abcnews.go.com/m/story?id=20721283

About csidds

Dr. Michael Bowers is a long time forensic consultant in the US and international court systems.
This entry was posted in Bad Forensic Science, Bitemarks, criminal justice, wrongful convictions and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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