Sunday, September 6, 2020

Bite mark series: Part (4): Excellent Innocence Project primer on bite mark analysis which explains in the clearest of terms why bite mark evidence should never be used in criminal trials...(Thanks to Dr. Michael Bowers of 'Forensics and Law in Focus: CSIDDS' for bringing this important primer to our attention. HL.)

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: This is a perfect way to end our four part bite mark series - an Innocence Project primer on bite mark analysis which explains  in the clearest of terms why bite mark  evidence should never be used in criminal trials. I have provided a brief excerpt - but it's really worth the entire  read. You will encounter many  of the bite mark cases I have covered - and am still covering - over the years, including: Kennedy Brewer, Levon Brooks, Ray Krone, Alfred Swinton, Calvin Willis, Keith Harward,  and Gerard Richardson. In recent weeks I have posted on developments in the Crystal Dawn Weimer and Robert DuBoise cases. You will also find some very interesting stats. Thank you Innocence Project and author Danielle Selby. So, read on!

Harold Levy: Publisher: The Charles Smith Blog.


Analysis: "Why bite mark  evidence should never be used in criminal trials, by Danielle Selby, published by The Innocence Project on June 6, 2020.

SUB-HEADING: "Nearly a quarter of people exonerated since 1989 were wrongfully convicted based on false or misleading evidence like bite marks.:

GIST:  The Innocence Project has provided  us  with a comprehensive primer on junk bite mark evidence and the miscarriages of justice it has caused. It deserved to be read in its entirety at the link below. For now, here is a taste from a section headed, 'Bite mark analysis has never been validated:  In 2009, the National Academy of Sciences released a groundbreaking report detailing problems with many forensic techniques in use in criminal proceedings. The report raised issues about the “substantial rates of erroneous results” in forensic disciplines including bite marks, and highlights its lack of scientific validation. 

Six years after this report, Drs. Iain Pretty and Adam Freeman, the former president of the American Board of Forensic Odontology (ABFO), alarmed by an uptick in wrongful convictions based on bite mark analysis, set out to determine whether they could establish the reliability of their work. They carried out a study which asked ABFO-certified dentists to use a “decision tree” to analyze sets of bite marks — some from their own case files. Among other basic questions, they were asked to determine whether they were looking at a “bite mark,” something “suggestive of a bite mark,” something that was “not a bite mark,” or whether they had insufficient information to make a determination.

In all but a few cases, participants could not agree on whether or not they were looking at a bite mark.

“That was so horrifying. If experts can’t agree on the answer to that initial question: Is this or is this not a bite mark? That should trouble anybody,” Dr. Freeman emphasized.

After years of practicing bite mark analysis, Dr. Freeman decided that day to stop. Unlike Dr. West, who consistently used definitive language in proclaiming injuries to be bite marks on multiple occasions, Dr. Freeman said he never once felt comfortable enough to testify about the probability of a bite mark “match” in any case."

The entire analysis can be read at:


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;
FINAL WORD:  (Applicable to all of our wrongful conviction cases):  "Whenever there is a wrongful conviction, it exposes errors in our criminal legal system, and we hope that this case — and lessons from it — can prevent future injustices."
Lawyer Radha Natarajan:
Executive Director: New England Innocence Project;