The bitemark experts once AGAIN, promise that they will do better. Read the following recent website posting from their head honcho. As usual, nothing about where all his newly found reliability comes from. Maybe its his below-mentioned “Tree” system? All the “good” cases sums his defense which is: “The ABFO has excluded far more people than they ever included.” Of course, the ones they included in 24 cases were innocent and the ones excluded never knew how close they came to their doom. This self-serving ratio of Loomis’ “risk vs benefit” statement is off-the cuff. His determination of “positive outcomes” is his opinion. The NAS report on bitemarks couldn’t find any. His audience is small. and growing smaller.
The New York Times printed an article on 9/16/2014 (LINK ADDED) faulting “bite-mark forensics.” It highlights an appeal recently filed by the Mississippi Innocence Project with the Mississippi Supreme Court, of 22 year old case in which bite mark testimony was provided by Dr. Michael West. Like every news article, there are misstatements and some erroneous information is given. In particular, the author parrots the flawed Innocence Project publicity that 17 people previously convicted based on “expert bite matches” have been exonerated by DNA evidence. The IP often uses the number of 24 so it least the number is down a bit, but in actuality the number is 10, and of these, five of the opinions were not “match” as the article mentions but a lesser opinion. While any number of wrongful convictions is unacceptable and we are all cognizant of the fact that some terrible mistakes have been made in the past, we cannot ignore the fact that hundreds of positive outcomes have occurred throughout the country wherein bite mark evidence played a crucial role in the judicial process to assist the triers of fact. The ABFO continues to make changes to ensure accuracy of expert opinions. The ABFO has developed the Bitemark Analysis and Comparison Decision Tree, is continuing to develop a bitemark proficiency examination, has significantly raised the bitemark and other requirements for examination eligibility for new candidates, requires recertifying diplomates to take a recertification examination and has revised the standards, guidelines and terminology for bitemark analysis.
Peter W. Loomis, DDS, D-ABFO
President – American Board of Forensic Odontology