Forensics : Research suggests that bitemarks used to prosecute in child abuse cases have lower pattern details than those bites seen in wrongful convictions.

(updated 2:16pm 7-17-2014)

Research on bitemark opinions: Bites on kids have lower pattern details than in bites used in wrongful convictions used by prosecutors. Authored by myself and Professor Iain Pretty. It was published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences in 2009. This article has an Impact Factor of 18 according to Google Scholar.  Quite good for a dental article. The JFS has an Impact Factor of 1.244. The full article is available here.  At the bottom of this page is a link to my lecture on this subject given at the AAFS meeting in 2008.

Here is the abstract:

Bitemark cases continue to raise controversy due to the degree of expert disagreement which is frequently seen. Using a case mix of 49 bitemark cases from 2000 to 2007 each injury was independently assessed for its forensic significance using a previously described bitemark severity scale. Following the assessment, the mean value for the bites was categorized according to the crime type, the degree of expert agreement, and the judicial outcome. Results suggest that bitemarks found in child abuse cases have statistically significantly lower forensic value than those in other crime types, that bites where there is mutual agreement between experts will have higher forensic value than those where there is disagreement at trial, and that cases in which DNA has provided an exoneration will demonstrate similar quality to those where a conviction was secured. Forensic odontologists should carefully assess bitemark evidence and ensure that it meets certain minimums in relation to the presence of class and unique features before undertaking an analysis.

See my Expert Disagreement in Bitemark Casework lecture presented to the AAFS dental section on this research. I recall noticing  a few hostile faces right after I finished. Only one AAFS/ABFO member commented and made the following statement. “Wouldn’t ‘you agree, that this paper is irrelevant?”

 

About csidds

Dr. Michael Bowers is a long time forensic consultant in the US and international court systems.
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One Response to Forensics : Research suggests that bitemarks used to prosecute in child abuse cases have lower pattern details than those bites seen in wrongful convictions.

  1. csidds says:

    Reblogged this on FORENSICS in FOCUS @ CSIDDS | News and Trends and commented:

    Prime example of forensic context bias in criminal justice. Has a connect with Shaken Baby Syndrome scientific myths having no supporting data. Its practitioners admit no cognitive biases exist and will not analyze their own casework. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases

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