Category Archives: Incompetent Experts

Jeremy Bamber

Jeremy Bamber was convicted of the murder of his adoptive parents, his sister Sheila Caffell, and Sheila’s two children on 7 August 1985. After initially being sentenced to 25 years, the sentence was later increased to a whole-life order.

Initially, police believed it was a case of murder-suicide by his sister who had a history of severe mental illness, but on 29 September 1986 he was arrested and charged with murder.

The critical evidence that convinced the jury of Jeremy’s guilt was a flake of blood found on a silencer found in a cupboard. At trial, the jury was told that the discovery of an enzyme from the blood was clear evidence that the blood found on the silencer came from Sheila. However the jury never knew that this blood could have been from animals. The rifle and the silencers were used to shoot game and could have been carried alongside rabbits when returning from a shoot. Had the jury known that two types of animal blood were found on the outer surface of another silencer, they would have known that the blood was more likely animal blood than Sheila’s blood.

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Molly Corbett and Thomas Martens

Molly Corbett, 34, and Thomas Martens, 68, were convicted Aug. 9, 2017, of second-degree murder of Irish businessman Jason Corbett, in August 2015.

Molly Corbett, who was Jason’s second wife, and Martens, a former FBI agent, maintained throughout the trial that they had killed Corbett in self-defense. Martens testified that he hit Jason Corbett multiple times in the head with a baseball bat after he found him choking his daughter.

Prosecutors cited Molly Corbett’s desire to adopt Jason’s children from his first marriage and a $600,000 life-insurance policy as possible motives for the killing.

In September 2018, the defense filed their appellate briefs, contending juror misconduct and that evidence favorable to the defense was improperly excluded. They also criticized the testimony of a blood spatter expert.

The appeal argues that statements by Jason Corbett’s children should have been heard by the jury based on a hearsay exception involving medical diagnoses. The children’s statements include descriptions of instances of Jason Corbett’s “irrational anger” toward Molly Corbett and themselves.

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John Kunco

In 1991, John Kunco was convicted of raping and beating a 55-year-old woman the previous December.

The victim claimed that her assailant’s voice sounded like the voice of a former maintenance worker in her apartment building named “John.” But she also said she had only spoken to Kunco once, never saw her attacker, and only identified Kunco based on his voice, and even then, not based on Kunco’s voice itself, but on a detective’s imitation of Kunco’s lisp.

The state’s case depended on the testimony of two bite-mark analysts. The police collected more than 40 other samples of forensic materials, including blood, hair and clothing fibers. None of it implicated Kunco. The bite-mark testimony was the only physical evidence linking him to the crime.

In 2009, DNA excluded Kunco as the source of biological material found on a lamp cord used to strangle the victim. His appeal was denied. In 2016, after two bite-mark skeptics within the ABFO submitted affidavits that were critical of the bite-mark testimony, the State’s experts submitted their own affidavits retracting their testimony and analysis. In May 2018, Kunco’s attorneys announced that they believe new DNA tests have exonerated their client.

Source: “Yet another bite-mark conviction is unraveling” Washington Post, May 21, 2018

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Update May 23, 2018 : New trial awarded

 

 

Pamela Lanier

Dorian Lanier died in hospital on 19 November 1997 of chronic and acute arsenic poisoning. His wife Pamela was subsequently convicted of his murder.

According to a 2004 ruling denying an appeal:

“Dorian and defendant had a contract to grow turkeys for Nash Johnson and Son Farms. Dorian used a turkey medication called Nitro-3 on his turkeys, which was administered through the turkeys’ water supply. Dorian had a proportional medication system between his house and his turkey houses, where Nitro-3 was mixed with water in a bucket called a proportioner;  the mixture then ran through a water hose to the turkey house. The hose had a bypass valve that allowed one to draw fresh water, without Nitro-3, out of the hose.  Nitro-3 contains arsenic and stains yellow any object with which it comes in contact.”

and

“Although Dorian knew the turkey medication contained arsenic, several defense witnesses, including defendant’s son, nephew, mother, father and a family friend, testified that they had seen Dorian drink from the hose attached to the turkey medication.   Defendant’s son, defendant’s father and an EMT testified that Dorian told them at the hospital on 19 November “he had done [this] to himself.””

The central question in the case is whether the turkey medication could have been responsible for his death. The case has been featured on “Undisclosed Podcast”. In Episode 4, the conclusion is that it’s very plausible that the turkey medication was the cause, and Dorian ingested the medication. Based on new expert opinions, a new appeal should be filed.

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Bryan Anthony Adams

On August 7, 2013, Floyd Myers reported he and his friend, John Hamlett, were victims of an armed robbery at a park by two men. He claimed his car was taken. Police found the car the same day two miles away, drug paraphernalia was found inside the vehicle.

A partial fingerprint was found on the steering wheel of the vehicle, and was matched to Bryan Adams, who was interviewed by police on September 18, 2013. Bryan was unable to remember what he was doing that day, but was positive he had not been at the park on the day in question, had never been in Myers’ vehicle, and, further, did not drive, as he did not have a license.

At trial, Myers testified that he did not recognize Adams as the man who robbed him, nor had he seen the assailant who confronted Hamlett during the subject robbery. Hamlett did not turn up to testify.

The defense failed to vigorously challenge the reliability of the fingerprint identification.

Solely on the basis of the partial fingerprint match, Bryan was convicted and sentenced to consecutive sentences of 20 years for armed carjacking and 20 years imprisonment, all but ten years suspended, for the use of a handgun in the commission of a felony, as well as a concurrent sentence of 15 years for the robbery with a dangerous weapon.

Source: Ruling denying an appeal.

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Kevin Keith

Kevin Keith was convicted for the 1994 shootings in Bucyrus, Ohio that killed three people and wounded three others.

Several alibi witnesses placed him more than 30 minutes away at the time of the shootings.

Keith was convicted due to testimony from G. Michele Yezzo, a now-discredited forensic analyst, who claimed that tires previously on Mr. Keith’s girlfriend’s car left the tire tracks in the snow at the scene.

Retired FBI Special Agent William Bodziak has concluded that Yezzo’s forensic conclusions were wrong, it could not have been Keith’s girlfriend’s car that made the snow impressions, and snow imprints did not exclude the alternate suspect whom the police simply failed to investigate.

Source: article by Jason Flom, June 2, 2017. Jason Flom is president of LAVA Records and a founding member of the Innocence Project’s board of directors.

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John N. Prante

John N. Prante was sentenced in 1983 to 75 years in prison for the June 20, 1978 murder of Karla L. Brown, in the city of Wood River, Illinois. Prante is held in the Pinckneyville Correctional Center and listed as eligible for parole in 2019, and for release in 2022.

There were no witnesses to Brown’s death, the only physical evidence against Prant was disputed bite-mark testimony, a dentist testified that less than 1 percent of people have teeth that could have left the mark.

Two prints on a coffee carafe that authorities said the killer clearly had touched did not match Prante.

An attempt to get a judge to order a DNA test for blood on a couch cushion in Brown’s basement was rejected in 1993 as coming too late in the appeals process. Illinois later passed a law to accommodate post-conviction forensic testing.

In January 2017, in response to news that attorneys from the Exoneration Project and the Innocence Project were filing for DNA tests to be conducted, and for the unidentified prints to be checked against a National database, Don W. Weber, the former prosecutor, called efforts on Prante’s behalf “intellectual malpractice”, writing “I already convinced 12 people beyond a reasonable doubt and feel no obligation to respond to a bunch of misguided liberal do-gooders who think every investigation is like a TV reality show”.

Source: Bite mark on Metro East woman slain in 1978 pointed to her killer. Or did it? St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 3, 2017

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Patrick Pursley

Patrick Pursley was convicted of a 1993 murder, based on unreliable key witness testimony, jailhouse informants, and faulty forensic science.

At trial, the State’s expert concluded that the bullets and cartridges recovered from the crime scene were fired from a gun linked to Pursley “to the exclusion of all other firearms.” However the State’s expert has now admitted that he was wrong, and a defense expert has found that neither the cartridges nor the bullets recovered from the crime came from the gun linked to Pursley. On April 19, 2016 Pursley was granted an evidentiary hearing.

Sources:

http://www.law.northwestern.edu/legalclinic/wrongfulconvictions/exonerations/waiting-for-justice/

http://www.jiwc.org/our-cases/patrick-pursley/

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News

March 3, 2017 New trial granted

April 13, 2017 Bond Set “A man who has been in prison for 23 years for murder will be released to await a new trial when $5,000 is paid on a $50,000 bond that Judge Joseph McGraw set today.”

 

 

Warren Horinek

On March 14, 1995, Warren Horinek called 911, claiming his wife Bonnie had shot herself. When paramedics arrived, they found Bonnie dead. She was lying on the couple’s bed with a gunshot wound to the chest. Warren was frantically administering CPR. On the bed next to Bonnie’s body was a .38 revolver and a shotgun. There was no sign of a break in. Police quickly narrowed the possible scenarios: Either Bonnie had committed suicide or Warren had murdered her. Warren claimed from the beginning that Bonnie had killed herself.

The people normally responsible for prosecuting a murder came to believe that Warren was telling the truth. The crime scene investigator, the homicide sergeant, the medical examiner and the assistant DA assigned to prosecute the case all became convinced that the evidence pointed to suicide.

“I always thought that it was suicide,” Mike Parrish, the prosecutor handling the case, told the Observer last year. “Still do.”

Bonnie’s parents chose to hire a private attorney, who, through a quirk in the law, obtained a grand jury indictment of Horinek. That led to a bizarre trial. Everyone trying to convict Warren was in private practice, and the agents of the state—crime scene investigator, homicide sergeant and assistant DA—all testified for the defense.

It seemed Warren was headed for acquittal until the testimony of the prosecution’s final witness—a blood spatter expert from Oklahoma named Tom Bevel. He testified that the small spots of blood found on Warren’s t-shirt the night of Bonnie’s death were certainly the result of blood spatter form a gunshot. He said the spatter proved Warren had fired a gun the night of the murder.

It was Bevel’s blood spatter testimony that led to Warren’s conviction.

The problem is Bevel may well have been wrong. Several nationally known blood spatter experts have examined the Horinek case and strongly believe the blood spots resulted from Warren administering CPR to Bonnie. They say the key forensic evidence that sent Warren to prison is flawed.

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Suzanne Johnson

Suzanne was convicted of assault on a child causing death ( shaken baby ), it made no sense but experts thought at the time the only explanation of three symptoms was shaking.

The judge said she was obviously an exemplary, caring, and loving lady, but the medical science established her guilt.

However it is now known that a short fall, like a fall from a high chair, can result in trauma sufficient to cause an infant’s death. Additionally, death from a short fall injury is more probable when an infant has a previous skull injury. In fact, when Jasmine fell from her high chair, she had an existing skull fracture that had occurred months earlier. The preexisting skull fracture was confirmed by Jasmine’s failure to thrive, physical discomfort, feeding problems, constant crying, and by autopsy findings.

Alton Dandridge – Exoneration report

Beniah Alton Dandridge was released on October 1st, 2015 after Equal Justice Initiative presented evidence showing that he was innocent of the murder for which he spent 20 years in prison.

On May 5, 1995, Beniah Dandridge was charged with capital murder in the killing of Riley Manning Sr. in Montgomery, Alabama, based exclusively on the Alabama Bureau of Investigation’s assertion that bloody fingerprints found at the crime scene matched Mr. Dandridge. No other physical evidence connected Mr. Dandridge to the crime.

At trial, prosecutors relied on the ABI examiner’s testimony that the fingerprints definitely matched Mr. Dandridge. The only other evidence presented was the testimony of a jailhouse informant who, in exchange for a reduced sentence in a pending case, said Mr. Dandridge told him he was involved in the crime.

Mr. Dandridge testified that he had nothing to do with the murder and presented evidence, corroborated by other witnesses, that he was elsewhere at the time of the crime. The jury convicted him of the lesser offense of intentional murder, and he was sentenced to life in prison.

In state postconviction proceedings, David Suddeth, who was also charged with killing Mr. Manning and pleaded guilty to capital murder to avoid the death penalty, provided a sworn statement that Mr. Dandridge was not present when Mr. Manning was killed. The jailhouse informant also said in a sworn affidavit that he testified falsely against Mr. Dandridge to obtain a reduced sentence.

The trial judge nonetheless denied relief, and state and federal courts affirmed that decision on appeal, relying on the fingerprint match to reject Mr. Dandridge’s innocence claim. Despite the evidence that he had been wrongly convicted, and his impeccable conduct in prison, the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles denied Mr. Dandridge parole twice.

EJI took on Mr. Dandridge’s case and filed a new challenge to his conviction in November 2014. In those proceedings, EJI presented evidence from independent forensic experts who testified that their examination of the fingerprint evidence conclusively excluded Mr. Dandridge.

The ABI’s examiner had used unreliable procedures to compare the fingerprints and had ignored obvious differences that clearly showed the prints did not belong to Mr. Dandridge. Excluding Mr. Dandridge, the experts found that the fingerprints instead matched the victim’s son, eliminating the State’s most significant evidence against Mr. Dandridge.

From http://www.eji.org/node/1156 – see full story there.

Darlie Routier

Darlie and her two sons were stabbed at her home on 6/6/1996. Allegedly performed elaborate staging of crime scene, including a bloody sock found 75 feet from her house. Has been waiting on Texas death row for new DNA tests to be performed since 2008. Extensive support from many innocence groups. Discredited “cargo cult science expert” Tom Bevel involved.

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Is this Texas mother a victim or a murderer? Death Row Stories, July 2015

Unidentified Fingerprint

A possible alternate suspect is serial killer Edward Wayne Edwards.

Darlie Routier is still on Death Row in Texas despite overwhelming evidence that her conviction for killing her own child is false, whilst Knox, Sollecito and Kiszko have been vindicated by the highest judicial authorities and telling evidence. The authors show how and why unfounded rumours still persist in the Knox/Sollecito case and advance a new theory that the Routier killings were the work of a notorious serial killer.
Three False Convictions, Many Lessons: The Psychopathology of Unjust Prosecutions Published 14 September 2016, by David C Anderson and Nigel P Scott
Update June 2018 : Darlie Routier Key Points