On Thursday a Texas Forensic Science Commission panel recommended that evidence based upon bite marks not be admissible in court. The full commission is expected to approve the moratorium, as soon as today:
Bite-mark evidence has been used in U.S. courts for decades, most often to identify suspects in murders, sexual assaults and child abuse through marks on the flesh of victims.
But techniques to determine the source of marks are unreliable, and human flesh is not a good source to record the marks, studies presented to the panel showed. In some studies, experts were often divided on whether they were seeing human bite marks, let alone matching them to a specific individual.
“This commission’s findings are incredibly significant because no other agency or scientific body has ever opined on the admissibility of bite mark analysis,” said Chris Fabricant, director of strategic litigation for the Innocence Project, which sought the review.
But don’t expect the Dallas County District Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit to reevaluate a host of cases of those sent to prison on this type of evidence. As the Morning News reported, even though a man named Steven Chaney was freed last fall after just such evidence was determined to have been faulty, there’s no easy way to determine who else might have been unfairly convicted on these grounds:Read More