Criminal Justice

The A.P. on Mississippi's Forensics Problems

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It's good that the Mississippi's troubled forensics system is getting national exposure, but this passage from the A.P. concerning shady medical examiner Dr. Steven Hayne, bite mark fraud Dr. Michael West, and District Attorney Forrest Allgood isn't quite accurate. The writer is referring to the two recent exonerations in Mississippi involving West, Hayne, and Allgood.

Hayne said he has done nothing wrong, and he remains on the job. "All I did was present the facts that I saw," Hayne said. "I did the post-mortem examinations. I didn't link them or exclude them."

The district attorney who prosecuted both defendants, Forrest Allgood, disputed any suggestion that his office knowingly sent the wrong men to prison.

"It torments the innocent individual, undermines the public confidence in the justice system, and the bad guy is still running loose," he said. "Why people would believe that's something we would want to do is beyond me."

Allgood said he has not used West as a forensic expert since the mid-1990s. He said West was once considered one of the world's foremost authorities in his field, lecturing in China and England.

"Subsequently the whole situation turned into a train wreck," the district attorney said.

Allgood simply isn't telling the truth, here. He continued to rely on West's testimony in the Kennedy Brewer case until the state attorney general forced him off the case in 2006. Brewer was exonerated by DNA evidence in 2001. Because Allgood refused to let go of West's testimony about Brewer's bite mark's on the victim's chest, Brewer remained in prison for an additional six years. Relying solely on West's testimony, Allgood maintained that though Brewer may not have raped the girl, he still likely bit her.

Allgood has now convicted three people (that I know of) of murder who were later exonerated. Two were sentenced to death. And it was Allgood who put on Dr. Hayne's absurd "two hands on the gun" testimony in the Tyler Edmonds case.

Allgood's also wrong about West being a "foremost authority" in his field. West was popular among prosecutors. He was never respected by his peers. West was first exposed as a fraud in the National Law Journal in 1994. Stories in 60 Minutes, Time, and Newsweek followed in the mid-1990s. There's no way Allgood couldn't have known about West's reputation. And he continued to use him well into the 2000s.

Hayne's now trying to distance himself from West, too. But these two have always been in cahoots. West frequently helps with Hayne's autopsies, and often videotapes them. The two have collaborated on journal articles about bite mark evidence. And when one has had his credibility questioned on the stand or in depositions, he often cites the other to vouch for him.

All three need to be investigated.

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  1. We, juvenile justice advocates have supported and followed the Edmonds case since day one. We have witnessed the gross injustice in his case. Justice has been DENIED this child, and so many others, due to subject posted. We continue to “campaign” for True Justice, and that it will be done in eliminating the gross injustices that infect it.

  2. And they put people in jail for smoking marijuana.

  3. Isn’t there enough here for the US DOJ to get involved on a civil rights violation basis? Or do they not want to usurpt state’s Attorney’s general and courts?

    If forensic authorities across the country recognize Hayne and West as hacks and the state isn’t undertaking comprehensive reviews, seems like the Feds must step in.

  4. All three need to be investigated.

    Don’t stop there. All three need to be prosecuted.

  5. Tbone wrote: “If forensic authorities across the country recognize Hayne and West as hacks and the state isn’t undertaking comprehensive reviews, seems like the Feds must step in.”

    I would say that if you want to see that, you’re going to have to vote for Obama this fall.

  6. Take a bow Radley – you made the lazy bastards finally take notice.

  7. The district attorney is so bad that even his name is a fraud.

  8. sic, RADLEY, sic boy!

    Good work

  9. It would be nice if you didn’t have to ALSO correct the AP in addition to trying to hold these crooks accountable…And it would be nice (but I don’t expect it) if the AP were to run a correction.
    JMR

  10. “It torments the innocent individual, undermines the public confidence in the justice system, and the bad guy is still running loose,” he said. “Why people would believe that’s something we would want to do is beyond me.”

    Notice that in this quote he doesn’t actually deny prosecuting people he knew to be innocent.

    Isn’t there enough here for the US DOJ to get involved on a civil rights violation basis? Or do they not want to usurpt state’s Attorney’s general and courts?

    Not in a red state they don’t. There hasn’t exactly been a wall of separation between the DOJ and the political ops wing of this administration.

  11. Oh yeah, this is another reason why the MSM’s current style of reporting, taking at face value the statements of govt officials without checking easily verified claims first.

  12. There hasn’t exactly been a wall of separation between the DOJ and the political ops wing of this administration.

    The wall’s still there. Revoving doors and bunny tubes have been installed, though..

  13. The AP article is accurate:

    Allgood said he has not used West as a forensic expert since the mid-1990s. He said West was once considered one of the world’s foremost authorities in his field, lecturing in China and England.

    Allgood probably did ooze those statements from his smug, lying orifice.

    The reporter got his quotes, untroubled by any necessity to verify the facts in the public record.

    Hey, the D.A. said it! What more do they want?

  14. If I were king, I would charge Allgood with attempted murder, and let him live out his days in the salt mines, contemplating his sins.

  15. “lecturing in China and England”

    on what – how to better institute a police state? this guy should have his ME license (oh wait he doesn’t have one), his citizenship, and his freedom revoked. in reverse order.

  16. Why can’t the MSM read the internet (and Reason) like the rest of us?? 😉

  17. Why does Radley hate Mississippi?

  18. “Why does Radley hate Mississippi?”
    This subject is NOT a matter of hate, it is a sole matter of JUSTICE!! The “injustices”, and now “they” are questioned, as in their “expertise”?? I admire anyone who has the spirit and teancity to get “real, true justice”

    kidsincourt.net

  19. knightgale, take your blood pressure meds, ed is kidding

  20. Being a friend of Tyler Edmonds and a staunch advocate against this child being prosecuted as an adult, let alone prosecuted at all, let me clue you in on something even more shocking than the revelations regarding Haynes and Allgood. Regardless of your position on these two, the government put into place a very important protection for criminal defendants which should be concerned doubly about child defendants (Tyler was only 13 years old). That is THE TRIAL COURT JUDGE.

    Prosecutors often are pit bull animals that have little regard for facts and justice, but are only interested in wins and exacting vengeance for their constituents. Such is true of Allgood in the Tyler Edmonds case and the bumbling Haynes merely a tool he used. Judge James Kitchens was supposed to insure fairness in the presentation of evidence.

    Kitchens, the trial judge in this mockery of justice which resulted in a child defendant being sentenced to life in prison, was supposed to act as an impartial judicial officer, not a second seat prosecutor. Hayne’s testimony NEVER could have been given if Kitchens had not allowed it (no reasonable judge would have). Kitchens was also the one one who supported the prosecution of this 13 year old boy as an adult (despite no criminal record, no discipline problems in school, who was an honor student and by all accounts ANYTHING but violent). Tyler Edmonds is the best example of a child who would benefit from juvenile rehabilitation IF HE WAS GUILTY (which most believe he was not). Kitchens wanted to appease his former boss Allgood by supporting this horrid and cruel decision to try Tyler as an adult (Kitchens having just ascended to the bench after working for Allgood for years).

    Additionally, there was huge questions about the fact that Tyler’s confession was coerced. Not coerced by law enforcement, but encourgaged by them just the same. Officers allowed Tyler “private time” (not video taped) with his half sister (who commited the murder and was convicted in a separate trial) while, at the same time, preventing Tyler’s own mother from seeing him while in custody and during the “interview.” Tyler had denied involvement with the crime UNTIL his half sister convinced him to confess so she might be spared, telling him they would only go after him as a juvenile. Kitchens allowed this false confession into evidence, yet DENIED Tyler’s defense from putting on a nationally recognized juvenile false confession expert. He also felt it was fine for a 13 year old boy to waive his right to counsel and to remain silent prior to being interviewed when the end result was a life sentence (this is a child barely on the cusp of puberty).

    These are just a few examples of how Kitchens used his position on the bench to insure a conviction for Allgood and his merry band of child abusers. So, by all means go after Allgood and Haynes for what they did to Tyler and so many others. But at the same time don’t forget Judge James Kitchens, who allowed this to occur by acting as a second seat prosecutor, rather than a judge.

  21. I was there during the trial of Tyler Edmonds. I witnessed first hand the second seat proscution of Judge James Kitchens. I watched in horror as Judge Kitchens stopped the defense attorneys attempts to bring good justice to this trial and allowed the persecuter (Prosecuter)attack a 13 year old child. I also watched in horror Steven Haynes demonstrate the two finger theory.

    Something has to be done about Badgood (Allgood) and his good ole boy system. Stop them from sending more innocent people to their doom. It could be a loved one of yours that they attack.

    Think about it!!!

  22. Even the Innocence Project is quoting Shelia Byrd’s article in which Allgood lies straight through his teeth! Thank Radley for setting the world straight.

    Now, if you’re curious about the DOJ thing, go ahead and do the following: call them up (they are very friendly and courteous and will get you to the right place ASAP) and ask to speak to Kelly Cunningham. This is what I did, and I had the MOST bizarro conversation with that guy who mentioned Hayne’s name before I did. He knew EXACTLY who I was talking about, but said he had just gotten off the phone with “an attorney in Jackson” who said “he’d never heard of Dr. Stephen Hayne.” BS! I dare you to call Cunningham just to see what he has to say now. The guy would not answer my question. All I wanted to know was: “If prosecutors knowingly and routinely use a medical examiner who provides false or misleading testimony that puts people on death row/sends them to prison, is this something DOJ would get involved in?”
    Call him! I’m begging you!

  23. depends what the definition of “knowingly” is. Allgood and the gang are going to shuck n jive around this the best they can. They have a bad act, so Radley, keep the heat on, please, people’s lives depend upon it.

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