Crime

More Apparent Evidence Tampering From Michael West, Bite Mark "Expert"

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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.

Read the whole article here. Balko on the Stubbs case a few weeks ago, here.

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  1. Im torn, on the one hand I know I should make myself aware of what is happening in our criminal ‘justice’ system. On the other hand, i really sleep better at night if i just believe that the system is run by smart, dedicated, honest people, and if I ever got caught up in something to do with the police, I would get fair and honest treatment.

  2. BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALKOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

    Reaching back from beyond the Gates of Hell to smash our collective groinal region once more…

  3. Nutpunch from another dimension.

  4. Yep. That’s a vampire bite.

  5. This guy needs to review the Kennedy assassination tapes.

  6. Balko’s videos of the magically appearing bits marks are astounding. I wonder how that was presented to a jury because if I saw even the finished results after West jammed the mold on that woman’s leg, I would have known that something was fishy.

    I think the only reason they can defend this guy is because they know that if they admit he is what he patently is they’ll have so much liability and hassle that they’ll never get out of it.

    1. The prosecution will defend everything they do wrong. I don’t see as liability, it’s that they can’t ever admit they are wrong no matter how obvious their wrongness.

  7. Bite me.

  8. You know what doesn’t leave a bite mark? Curb stomps.

  9. The impression I’m left with here is that Mr. West has a pathological need to be important. To be seen as a man of substance. He needs a good talking too, just before starting a term in the hoosegow.

  10. I don’t know why anyone is surprised by this. A good percentage of the population believe a guy talked to God in the guise of a burning bush.

  11. How long before people start to tip to the fact that you never see [Superman|Batman|Spiderman] and Michael West at the same time?

  12. “Balko, who wrote about West, and the baffling amount of trust put in him by actual courts of law,… ”

    Baffling that courts of “justice” would put “trust” in a witch doctor who would read chicken entrails to confirm a prosecutions case?

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