Radley Balko has done a four-part series on bite mark evidence for the Washington Post. Part two discusses Mississippi cases. It doesn’t mention one of the first lawyers to expose Michael West’s “blue light” magic as hokum and that lawyer was John Holdridge.
Some twenty-odd years ago I was arguing a death penalty case in the Mississippi Supreme Court that had a bite mark issue. Justice Smith asked me “didn’t Ted Bundy get convicted based, at least in part, on bite marks.” I guess that’s the unwrittten rule of evidence known as the “Ted Bundy rule.”
I don’t know if bite marks are being used as evidence in Mississippi any more. If not, it’s still an interesting read as well as a lesson in how the system allows screwed-up forensic evidence in its zeal to convict.
Part Three: Attack of the bite mark matchers