Blood pattern analysis may not be as accurate as believed

State attorneys who prosecute individuals for violent crimes that occur in West Virginia often rely on testimony from expert witnesses experienced in blood pattern analysis. Blood spatter has been used since the late 19th-century and has played an important role in many trials, including the one of O.J. Simpson, who was acquitted of killing his ex-wife and her boyfriend in 1995.

Police often rely on BPA when trying to determine what happened in a crime scene. Investigators work backward using blood drips, smears and spatters. The different types and locations of the blood can help them determine where an assailant was standing and how they were attacked. Experts may be able to identify the type of weapon used, the height of the alleged attacker and if the victim fought back based on the blood residue. Experts on BPA have been used as witnesses in thousands of cases over the years and many people have been convicted or exonerated because of their evidence.

A 2009 study done by researchers at the US National Academy of Sciences brought the practice of BPA into question. The study alleged that practitioners often lack valid accreditation and that the practice lacks scientific rigor. There are many reported cases where people were found guilty of a crime due to BPA only to be later exonerated. Researchers believe that BPA shouldn't solely be relied upon and that the practice needs further research.

Being accused of a violent crime is a serious offense that may result in a person being sentenced to many years in prison. Because of the consequences, it is important that the accused have a fair trial. In this case, a person who was convicted of a crime due to BPA may want to have an attorney mount an appeal.

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