Forensic evidence follow-up: Report discredits bite-mark analysis

We recently wrote about controversy surrounding the reliability of forensic evidence. All forensic tests contain some degree of uncertainty, and most have a higher degree of uncertainty than the general public realizes.

In fact, there are even some forensic tests that scientists are saying should not be used in criminal cases because they are so unreliable. One example is bite-mark analysis. Earlier this year, the Texas Forensic Science Commission released a report and recommendation against the use of bite-mark analysis because "we feel it does not meet the standards of forensic science."

For those who might be unfamiliar, bite-mark analysis involves matching bite wounds on victims to the supposedly unique bite profile of a suspect or set of suspects. Such analysis has been used in many cases alleging rape, murder and other violent crimes.

Human skin is quite malleable, and that's one of the biggest problems with bite-mark analysis. Bite wounds change shape over time, and two different wounds made by the same set of teeth may not even match one another, much less the teeth pattern. In some cases, it isn't even clear whether bite wounds were inflicted by a human being or an animal.

What does the Texas Forensic Science Commission's recommendation mean for people here in West Virginia? Well, the commission's recommendations are non-binding, even in Texas. But because the findings were scientifically scrutinized and because the commission itself has no political or ideological agenda, the recommendation could prove to be highly influential in states across the country (and at the federal level).

If you have been accused of a crime, the evidence against you may not be as strong as it seems. Before you decide that you are out of options, please discuss your case with an experienced personal injury attorney.

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