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|Click above to watch excerpts of Haley Oliveaux's postmortem examination.|
The full 24-minute video opens with Michael West's initial examination of Haley Oliveaux's body on the night of December 18, 1993. He notes several injuries, but at no time does he mention the presence of possible bite marks on Oliveaux’s right cheek. The video itself shows no sign of bite marks, scrapes, or abrasions on the cheek.
At the 4:55 mark, there's a cut in the original video, representing the break between West's initial exam on December 18, and a follow-up bite-mark analysis on December 19. After the break, West stands over Oliveaux's body, which now contains a striking red abrasion on her right cheek—an abrasion that wasn't there before. West then takes the plaster cast of Jimmie Duncan's teeth and pushes it into the scrape on Oliveaux's jaw. Over the next few minutes he jams, drags, and scrapes the dental mold across Oliveaux’s cheek 17 times. For the entire 24-minute video, West uses Duncan's teeth mold on Oliveaux's skin more than 50 times.
Expert Opinion on the Video
Reason first asked Michael Bowers to comment on the video. Bowers, a practicing dentist, is a deputy medical examiner for Ventura County, California and a past chairman of the American Board of Forensic Odontology’s Exam and Credentialing Committee. He worked with the Innocence Project to help free Kennedy Brewer.
"This is the best documentation I've ever seen of Dr. West's junk bite-mark comparisons," Bowers said in a phone interview last month.
When asked how abrasions on Oliveaux's cheek not present when the video begins could later appear, Bowers answered, "Because Dr. West created them. It was intentional. He's creating artificial abrasions in that video, and he's tampering with the evidence. It's criminal, regardless of what excuse he may come up with about his methods." Bowers added, "You never jam a plaster cast into a possible bite mark like that. It distorts the evidence. You take a photograph, or if there are indentations, you take an impression. But you don't jam plaster teeth into them." After viewing the video, Bowers submitted an affidavit for Jimmie Duncan's defense.
Reason also showed the video to David Averill, a dentist and a former president of the American Board of Forensic Odontology. "The video is troubling. I don't know how you can explain where those marks come from. And there's just no justification for him to push the cast into the skin like that," Averill said. "That isn't an acceptable way to perform a bite mark analysis."
Duncan's post-conviction attorneys hired San Diego forensic pathologist Harry Bonnell to review Hayne and West's testimony in the case. Bonnell, who has been highly critical of Hayne in the past, sits on the board of trustees for Parents of Murdered Children, Inc., a victim advocacy group. He has worked for the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology and formerly served on the ethics committee of the National Association of Medical Examiners. By email, Bonnell told Reason, "If what I am seeing on the video is accurate, someone is using the mold of Duncan's teeth to create an apparent bite mark; this, in my mind, is criminal tampering with evidence."
In his affidavit for Jimmie Duncan's defense, Bonnell elaborated:
The injury to the cheek of Haley Oliveaux is not seen in hospital photos...and was generated by using a mold of Duncan’s teeth to create a bitemark. The injuries on the child’s face are abrasions, which form almost immediately, unlike bruises, therefore the fact that the marks are not present in hospital photos and in the beginning of the West Video makes it medically impossible that Jimmie Duncan could have inflicted any of these injuries. Nor is it possible that witnesses could have seen these marks in the emergency room, as abrasions cannot appear, then disappear, and then reappear at the morgue...stating that the bites (which they are not) were inflicted within 30 minutes of death is rubbish, and supported by no scientific fact or literature.
The above image of Haley Oliveaux comes from the start of the autopsy video of Haley Oliveaux on December 18, 1993. The image below comes from December 19, 1993, when the video of the examination continued.
The Tainted Dr. West