Over at The Huffington Post, former Reason Senior Editor Radley Balko reports on more miscarriages of justice that can be credited to the "expert" testimony of forensic "scientist" and dentist Michael West. West has once again been caught seemingly fabricating forensic evidence on video.
In the early 1990s, West, a dentist in Hattiesburg, Miss., was one of country's most prolific forensic odontologists, or bite mark specialists. West claimed to have perfected a new method of identifying bite marks on human skin, saying he could then match them to the teeth of a criminal suspect. Conveniently, West often testified that only he could perform this new analysis, which he called the "West Phenomenon."
Balko, who wrote about West, and the baffling amount of trust put in him by actual courts of law, for an award-winning Reason cover story in 2009. The article hinges on disturbing video of the autopsy of Haley Oliveaux, on whose body West performed his "Phenomenon."
Balko has lately been on the case of Leigh Stubbs, a Mississippi woman sentenced to 44 years in prison for assault and drug charges.West helped put her away by performing his usual tricks. But now not only is West an expert at identifying bite marks nobody else can see and which seem to suddenly appear on this video, he also is apparently better at enhancing surveillance footage (which supposedly shows Stubbs and her accomplice moving the unconscious body of their victim) than the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
West testified that he could see two separate figures entering and leaving the frame, that they were wearing different clothing (one shorts, the other blue jeans). While the FBI could only determine that someone had removed perhaps a bag or suitcase from a toolbox in the truck bed, West claimed that through enhancement, he could make out hair, legs and blue jeans, leading him to conclude that the object being removed was clearly a body. West also claimed he could read the body language of one figure in the footage. He testified that she appeared "anxious," and was exhibiting the sort of adrenaline-fueled "fight or flight" response one shows after committing a crime.