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Problem-based analysis of bitemark misidentifications: the role of DNA.

Authors
  • Bowers, C Michael
Type
Published Article
Journal
Forensic Science International
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
May 15, 2006
Volume
159 Suppl 1
Identifiers
PMID: 16600549
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

The dental literature concerning bitemark methodology is surprisingly thin and sorely lacking in rigorous scientific testing. Contra to this fact, the bitemark legal caselaw is surprisingly strong and is used as a substitute for reliability testing of bite mark identification. In short, the Judiciary and the Prosecutors have loved forensic odontologists. This paper will focus on the author's participation as a Defense expert over the last seven years in over 50 bitemark prosecutions and judicial appeals. This sampling will act as an anecdotal survey of actual bitemark evidence. Certain trends regarding methods and reliability issues of odontologists will be discussed. Several of these cases have been later judicially overturned due to DNA analyses after the defendants were originally convicted. These diagnostic misadventures are being vocally discussed in the US media by news and legal investigators who are asking hard questions. The forensic dentistry community, however, is curiously silent. What actions are necessary by the profession to improve this assault on the 52-year tradition of bite mark identifications in the United States?

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