The expert whose bite-mark evidence led a jury to put Eddie Lee Howard Jr. on Mississippi’s death row now believes such evidence should be tossed.
“I no longer believe in bite-mark analysis,” forensic odontologist Michael West of Hattiesburg testified in a 2012 deposition. “I don’t think it should be used in court. I think you should use DNA. Throw bite marks out.”
On Tuesday, lawyers from the Mississippi Innocence Project will argue to the state Supreme Court that Howard deserves a new trial. The state says justices have already rejected these arguments in a previous appeal.
Howard, who turns 62 on Saturday, remains on death row, convicted of the 1992 rape and stabbing death of 84-year-old Georgie Kemp of Columbus.
Recently performed DNA tests reveal the presence of male DNA (other than Howard) on the bloody knife found at the murder scene. DNA tests on the nightgown and the rape kit have excluded Howard as well.
June 20, 2015 Bite-mark expert dismisses own testimony
August 7, 2015 Lowndes man sentenced to death may get new trial “On Aug. 4, the Supreme Court ruled Howard may file a petition for post-conviction relief in the trial court.
(Columbus, MS) Eddie Lee Howard was exonerated on Friday, January 8, 2020, marking the end of his 26-year fight for innocence. Mr. Howard, a Black man, was sentenced to death in 1994 after being wrongfully convicted of murdering an elderly white woman in Columbus, Mississippi, based almost entirely on now discredited bite mark evidence. New forensic opinion regarding bite marks and powerful alibi witnesses, along with DNA testing of crime scene evidence, including blood and DNA from the murder weapon, excluded Mr. Howard, proving his innocence. He was released from Mississippi’s death row in early December 2020 ahead of today’s ruling.