Thursday, August 23, 2018

Joe Bryan: Texas: Bulletin: Controversial Blood splatter case: Major development: kcentv reports: ''The judge who has been listening to testimony in the Joe Bryan murder case has put the hearing on an extended recess to allow testing of the DNA. The hearing was only supposed to last three days but it appears this a possible positive move for the defense."

"The judge who has been listening to testimony in the Joe Bryan murder case has put the hearing on an extended recess to allow testing of the DNA. The hearing was only supposed to last three days but it appears this a possible positive move for the defense."

Read the  entire post at the link below:

For background, read previous post of this Blog at the link below:

GIST:  "A hearing is underway in Comanche in which attorneys are challenging key evidence in the 1985 conviction of a former Clifton High School principal accused of killing his wife, a popular local teacher. Attorneys Jessica Freud and Walter “Skip” Reaves, represent Bryan in his bid for a new trial 33 years after the shooting death of his wife, Mickey, 44. Dr. Tom Bevel, a world-class forensic scientist known for his expertise in blood spatter analysis, testified Monday afternoon that the evidence used to convict Bryan of his wife’s murder in 1985 was inaccurate. Bevel was the second expert who testified Monday and both had the same opinion, which was that science that was used to convict Bryan in 1986 was “junk science” and could not stand the scrutiny of testing today. Bryan fought back tears as he sat in the courtroom while Bevel reviewed a series of crime scene photographs and based on the photos was able to determine just how the original investigator organized the scene and was able to point out errors in the investigators methodology. “He (the original investigator) doesn’t understand how to do this in a number of areas,” Bevel testified. Bevel was the second forensic scientist to cast doubt on the original evidence used to convict Bryan in both 1986 and his re-trial in 1989 was not accurate. A Montgomery County forensic scientist testified Monday morning evidence used in 1986 to convict Bryan of his wife's murder was insufficient. Celestina Rossi told Judge Douglas Shaver the blood spatter evidence used to convict Bryan of the 1985 murder of his wife could not stand the scrutiny of modern lab testing and could not have been used to convict Bryan. Bosque County District Attorney Adam Sibley explained at the beginning of the hearing that the state had not yet received results from laboratories that still are re-testing evidence used to convict Bryan. “Why not,” Shaver asked “It’s just not finished yet,” Sibley said. Freud called Rossi to the stand and began her questioning by establishing Rossi’s background as an expert in the field. Rossi, one of at least four witnesses Freud and Reaves planned to call, began dismantling the forensic science issues used to convict Bryan piece-by-piece. Rossi pointed out that the investigator who presented the evidence at trial had only the basic education in blood spatter analysis and, according to his records, had never completed any additional training. The FBI, which monitors all scientific testing issues in the country, she testified, says a blood spatter analyst must complete continuing education on a regular basis and the original investigators “shows no evidence of additional education." As well, Rossi said, conclusions reached in investigator Robert Thorman’s report may be invalid because they likely were improperly measured when collected. A caliper or other critical measurement device should be used, but in the Bryan case Thorman used a yardstick.
“That kind of measurement cannot give the investigator critical enough measurements to be meaningful,” she said. “Thorman’s testimony was inappropriate and was not supported by testing,” Rossi said. Given the inaccuracy of the measuring devices used in the Bryan case, a supportable conclusion couldn’t be drawn and Thorman’s statement in court was “probably just a guess,” Rossi said. The other issue Rossi spoke to was the number of blood spatter stains tested and eventually entered into evidence. She said Thorman collected only five samples, which she said was not nearly enough to arrive at the conclusions Thorman testified to. There were four gunshot wounds in Mickey Bryan’s body and Thorman collected only five samples when there should have been a bunch, Rossi said. This was “not a correct methodology, he should have collected many, many more,” Rossi testified. “It was a complex scene with a lot of surfaces that should have been more properly investigated,” Rossi concluded. Thorman also issued a conclusion about where the killer was standing and how high he held the gun when he fired it, what forensic scientists call the “area of emergence,” but, Rossi said, the data that Thorman presented in his report were not sufficient to reach that conclusion. Thorman testified the gun used to kill Mickey Bryan was fired by someone the same size as Joe Bryan, but Rossi said the data that Thorman used to support that claim were not sufficient to make that determination. “An area of emergence can be determined, but the data presented here is not the data that is required to establish that,” Rossi said. “I don’t think I could determine anything from this data,” Rossi said. “It was simply improperly assembled.” Freud told Judge Shaver at the outset she does not anticipate being finished until Wednesday. Bryan currently is in custody at the Huntsville Unit, in Huntsville, has a projected release date of April 17, 2025. He has been eligible for parole since July 2007, TDCJ-ID inmate records show. Reaves and Freud are presenting evidence gleaned from a Texas Forensic Science Commission report that was released in July that says the science used to convict Bryan was "junk science" and was totally unreliable. "In incredibly brief summary, the commission concluded that nearly all the scientific evidence used to convict Joe - and there was never much to begin with - was, and is, either flat out wrong, unreliable or scientifically unsupportable," Freud said at the time. Blood spatter on a flashlight lens turned out to be Bryan's coffin nail when in 1986 an expert testified what the tiny red dots on the clear plastic lens were and how they got there. A surprising analysis of the blood spatter on the lens revealed that what prosecutors in 1985 said was proof Bryan held his flashlight in one hand and his .357 magnum in the other when he shot his wife, may not have been blood, at all. "Basically, the commission found the bloodstain pattern analysis used in Mr. Bryan's case is not scientifically supportable under standards in effect at the time or under today's standards," TFSC board secretary Kathryn Adams, said in the report. TFC's report went on to say a primary issue revolves around "the presence of blood on a flashlight" and the laboratory at "DPS Waco is currently working on DNA testing and may be able to shed some light on that question." Reaves, in a story on Bryan's appeal published June 12 on, said "without doubt, there is less evidence in this case than any other one I've dealt with over 35 years and on a scale of 1-to-10 the evidence presented in Bryan's trials was a 1, seriously lacking." Bryan has maintained unfailingly since his arrest he did not do it and was actually innocent of the crime, not just "not guilty". On July 12 the Texas Board of Paroles and Paroles announced members had denied Bryan's fourth request for release, in spite of prison officials saying time and time again that he is a model inmate, has no disciplinary actions and plays piano at the prison chapel services. Some say the board passed over his requests because he refused to accept responsibility for his wife's murder. Says Reaves, "Maybe that's because he didn't do it." Bryan, at the time of his wife's murder, was checked in at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, in Austin, preparing to attend a meeting of the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals, set for 8 a.m. the next day. In his first murder trial, prosecutors told the jury that between 9:15 p.m. on Oct. 14, 1985 when the two spoke by telephone, and sunup the next morning, when Mickey was found shot to death, Bryan slipped out of his Austin hotel unseen, drove 120 miles to Clifton in the dark and through a heavy rain storm, with an eye condition that made it nearly impossible for him to drive at night, shot his wife, in spite of the fact there was no history of conflict between them; drove 120 miles back to Austin; went back to the hotel and stole upstairs to his room with plenty of time left over to shower and clean up so he could make his 8 a.m. meeting. All of that without leaving a single witness at any one of those places or any type of forensic evidence anywhere. Testimony in trial showed Mickey Bryan had been shot three times in the head and once in the abdomen at very close range, her report of autopsy showed. Medical examiner Dr, Graeme Dowling, who completed the post-mortem examination, reported finding the gunshot wounds in her head and body. The room was covered in blood and the coroner told investigators the incident would have left the gunman extremely bloody as well. Yet no bloody clothes or shoes were found at the crime scene or anywhere associated with Bryan. A pair of Bryan's underwear were found in a trashcan at the Clifton home, still damp, that tested positive for semen deposited by a Type A secretor, which Bryan also is. The fatal wounds, prosecutors said, had been caused by rounds fired from a .357-magnum caliber weapon, but no trace of the handgun ever was found and it was not present at either trial. Bryan had told investigators he owned a .357-magnum that he kept next to the bed, loaded with snake shot because there were snakes around where the couple lived. That handgun, and some jewelry were missing from the couple's home. Forensic tests provided McMillen with enough evidence during trial that he said the gun used was a .357-magnum pistol and that was never challenged, Reaves said. But the murder weapon, itself, never was recovered, nor was the jewelry. At trial McMullen explained the missing items away by saying Bryan would have discarded them to prevent them becoming part of the investigation. Bryan was found guilty and sentenced to 99-years in state prison. Reaves and Freud are representing Bryan on appeal, largely based upon the fact that the science used to convict Bryan in 1985 and in 1989 was imprecise and extremely fallible, a point which hasn't been brought up in Bryan's appeals process before. Reaves believes, and that belief is supported by new science, that the blood spatter evidence protocol used to convict Bryan was based on what today is "junk science". A major link in the conviction came after McMullen introduced the blood spatter that was found on the lens of a flashlight inside Bryan's car trunk, and that evidence was, in large part, responsible for the conviction. But it's that very blood spatter evidence that Reaves is calling into question today and that blood spatter evidence that might in the end lead to Bryan's release. Freud got involved almost five years ago in the Bryan case when she was still at Baylor Law School and was interning for Reaves, she said. It was her research that guided the appeal issues set for hearing in August, according to Reaves. Freud said she is so passionate about Bryan's case because: "If an injustice can happen to Joe Bryan, it could happen to any of us," Freud said. “It happened then and it can happen today." Convinced of an improper verdict in Bryan's case, New York Times Magazine writer Pamela Colloff, who heard about the blood spatter issue, signed up to take the forensic blood spatter evidence course and later wrote an article about Bryan's case. Coloff was in the Comanche County courtroom on Monday. Just four short months before Mickey Bryan was killed, the body of a Clifton teenager, Judy Whitley, 17, was found in a cedar thicket near the city's Goodall-Witcher hospital. Before these two murders, people in Clifton couldn't say when they remembered the last one happened. Whitley had been brutalized and she was found lying naked, in a cedar woods on the far west side of town. No one's ever been arrested for her murder. But the former editor and owner of the Clifton Record newspaper, who has written about both the Bryan and the Whitley cases since the murders were reported, says he, and many others, believe the two murders are connected. At the time of Whitley's murder, one of the primary suspects was a Clifton police officer, but there never was an internal investigation and he moved to another job in 1985. Officers from the Rosenburg police force, in South Texas, responding to a call for help min 1996, found Dennis Dunlap hanging in his garage. Subsequent investigation showed Dunlap, 49 when he died, left a note in his bedroom that day saying he'd been a suspect in Whitley's death and Rosenberg police notified Clifton police of his suicide. Not until after his suicide did law enforcement begin an investigation into his relationship with Whitley. Former newspaper editor Leon Smith told Colloff he later would learn from an officer who worked with Dunlap that at the time of Whitley's murder he had strongly suspected Dunlap in her death, but after the suspected officer left the Clifton Police Department, the investigation languished. The late Clifton police Chief Jim Vanderhoof, a different chief from the man who oversaw the initial investigation, declared the case had been solved after associates of Dunlap told him the former officer had confided intimate details of the crime to them; those which likely no one but the killer would have known. Dunlap reportedly told another police he was relieved at the time because investigators failed to find a roll of duct tape in the trunk of his car, the same kind of tape used to bind Whitley's body. Also, police learned of a long history of Dunlap's violence against women … one victim told police Dunlap had threatened to choke her if she refused to have sex with him. One of Dunlap's ex-wives told investigators he had bragged about having an affair with Mickey Bryan. "All he told me was he dated her," the ex-wife, who asked not to be identified, said. "He told me he dropped her off at her house that night, or that evening and she had told him she was going to break it off," she said.";postID=7493493474623693572;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=33;src=link

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: 
Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;