Bill Richards was arrested for the murder of his wife Pamela in 1993 and eventually convicted in 1997 after three trials in California’s San Bernardino County. A linchpin for his last trial was testimony by two forensic dentists who talked about an injury on his murdered wife’s hand being a human bitemark. One said a single tooth in Bill’s mouth matched a feature present in a bruising pattern. With that, the conviction was finally achieved due to the power of forensic ‘expertise’ combined with baseless opinion.
Going forward to 2008, both dentists recanted their opinions, police and crime scene evidence was proven to be misleading or overstated and, at the worst, hair evidence seemed to suspiciously ‘appear’ months after it was not present at autopsy. Also, lets not forget the DNA recovered from Pam was from an unknown male. He was declared wrongly convicted and exonerated in 2008.
He stayed in prison ……..
……remember, this is San Bernardino we are talking about. It’s DA had this to say about his admiration of bitemarks last fall as President of the National District Attorney Association (@NDAAJustice). In 2008. he and then (now governor) California Attorney General Jerry Brown fought back with an onslaught of appeals. With that as a background, you will see why Bill remained in prison for 8 more years.
Bill’s fight to overturn his conviction kept going and bounced up to the CA Supreme Court – twice. In July 2016, his conviction was quashed, over obstinate objections of DA Ramos and was released from prison. His lengthy story is extensively featured here and here.
It is significant to know that Bill’s case generated a new law in California regarding admitting recanting testimony of forensic experts and scientific advances as relevant evidence of innocence. The Bill Richards anti-junk science law.
This week, two other dentists, Drs. Janice Klim and Rick Cardoza, successfully completed extensive dental care to make Bill’s smile healthy and complete. Inmate health care treatment in prisons is notoriously poor and incomplete. Bill left prison with serious medical and dental problems not associated with his being personally neglectful. He was experiencing tooth pain the day he was released from jail in July 2016.
BTW, ironically both Janice (1) and Rick (2) are highly experienced and credentialed forensic dentists and are colleagues of mine. Vicki (3) is also very generous and has been a cosmetic dental lab professional for 25 years. Bravo to them all.
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