Musings of the bitemarkers while at #AAFS2017 in NOLA

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Its always so thrilling to read about certain bitemarker oral presentations at the annual American Academy meetings. Some of this tribe’s upstanding founders and veterans bring out their guns to profess what they can do. It’s also an always impressive use of the  ‘ipse dixit’ nature of their culture.  They love to piggy-back their dogma with other police sciences such as fingerprints and pattern-matchers whom they have emulated for decades.

What is always lacking is anything about validating science. zilch. The bunch have also admitted to possessing no science to the NIJ’s OSAC. No wonder the NIJ won’t give them any more funding.

The following lame excuses, allusions to forensic grandeur and misnomers of fact clearly prove that courts must understand all of this is a psuedo-science. Judges are obligated to eliminate it’s future uses and remedy convictions bitemarks aided over the last 50 years.

Here are a few choice examples with a rebuttal right after.

  • Bitemark evidence in some cases has been misused, and occasionally abused, but that does not render it useless….
  • Banning all bitemark evidence would be similar to banning fingerprint evidence because the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)…..
  • “It’s not the science that’s faulty, it’s the people”……
  • the usefulness of bitemarks as exculpatory evidence…….
  • These tragic mistakes have resulted in false convictions in several cases…….
  • The 2014 Freeman-Pretty study was to test the first step of the American Board of Forensic Odontology (ABFO) Bitemark Algorithm. The question was essentially, “Is this mark evidentiary?” The disagreement between examiners cited by bitemark critics was not based on recognition of an injury as a bite, but rather whether the injury had sufficient evidentiary value to include or exclude a suspect.
  • ……bitemark analyses should be performed with caution in the forensic practice, confirming that only trained professionals should become involved, and that specific case selection should be considered.

What the National Academy of Sciences concluded about bitemark matching in 2009 after a four year study.

    • “Bite marks on the skin will change over time”;
    • Bite marks “can be distorted by the elasticity of the skin, the unevenness of the surface bite, and swelling and healing”;
    • “Distortions in photographs and changes over time in the dentition of suspects, may limit the accuracy of the results”;
    • “Different experts provide widely differing results and a high percentage of false positive matches of bite marks using controlled comparison studies”;
    • and concerns about a lack of supporting research, a lack of a central repository of bite marks and patterns, and the potential for examiner bias.

p. 174

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About csidds

Dr. Michael Bowers is a long time forensic consultant in the US and international court systems.
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