FORENSICS | THE SILVER BULLET? : $715,000, three year long research project promises to support admissibility of BITE MARK IDENTIFICATION

Too bad the chief investigator has a history of being involved in the wrongful conviction of  Robert Lee Stinson in WI. He reports (with other contributors, all are Marquette University faculty; mostly dentists)  results that support the bite mark “match” he presented in Stinson’s 1986 conviction may still be accurate and compelling evidence of Stinson’s continuing guilt. Seems odd to me, since this defendant (now exonerated and suing them in federal court) was presented as the only suspect at the original trial. But, as history tells us, rationales are not necessary rational. Dentist and lawyer support a NEW THEORY that the post conviction DNA obtained by the Innocence Project’s litigators now confirms that “there were two perps” committing the crime, thereby leaving Stinson still guilty. One must strike when the opportunity occurs to rehabilitate oneself. Their opportunity was to get the National Institute of Justice to fund research over the last few years. They now claim a “silver bullet victory” on their own behalf. Like the Lone Ranger and Tonto, they have completed the funding required research ending report. I obtained a copy from the NIJ. See attached. This will lead to their most likely getting it “professionally published” (this assumes additional peer review beyond the NIJ) in a fingerprint, ballistics and crime lab journal.   The NIJ has no scientific staff who are forensic dentists (it relies on volunteer reviewers). Since the funding and previous publication (of their initial research goals that claimed clear confidence of success) ultimately came through their association with the fingerprint journal, its hard copy is likely to show up there. This journal’s parent org is the International Association of Identification. Out of its thousands of members, there are 3 dentists. The forensic dental contingent is composed of: 1) the chief investigator of the paper, 2) a dentist who has been involved in two wrongful convictions via the use of his (he later admitted his mistake in the press) erroneous bite mark opinions, 3) and myself. One last observation: The 2014 news release claims to have solved all ( in one swoop) the questions dogging bite mark advocates for decades. Considering the time gap from bite marks’ first introduction in US Courts (1954) to 2014, the paper’s grandiose claims, merely on their face, reinforces the fact that the bite mark community has been flying blind for about 60 years. The creation of the new National Forensic Science Commission now permits this “elite forensic group” ( as stated in the Press by the American Academy of Forensic Sciences) the opportunity to review all the previous case history on the use of bite mark “science.” Maybe this new report is not such a “silver bullet” after all. THE MERITS (if any) AND FAILURES (many) of the Report will be forthcoming in a future blog. Johnson_Radmer_NIJ_2010-DN-BX-K176__10_13_13 (2)

About csidds

Dr. Michael Bowers is a long time forensic consultant in the US and international court systems.
This entry was posted in AAFS, Bite Marks, Bitemarks, National FOrensic Science Commission and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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