Home / ABFO Diplomates / Innocence Project takes on yet another bitemark case

Innocence Project takes on yet another bitemark case

The Belleville News has an article and interview with Dana Delger from the NY IP.  They have taken the case of the case of John Prante, who was convicted in 1983 of the murder of Karla Brown. You can read the full article here.

The bitemark evidence is described as shoddy and the original court heard from:

Dr. Homer Campbell, a dentist and the chief consultant in forensic dentistry for the State of New Mexico, whose area of research is photographic enhancement and its application to forensic dentistry and forensic pathology in the analysis of injury patterns, testified that, in his opinion, the injuries to the victim’s forehead, nose, and chin were caused by the base and wheels of a television tray stand. He described the human bite as ovoid in shape and stated that in a human bite most frequently only the front six teeth will mark. He said that very frequently a bite mark is “totally overlooked, or it is not recognized as an injury pattern.” In photographs of the victim, the witness identified at least three bite marks overlapping one another. On the basis of the spacing of the defendant’s teeth, which contained a space between each one of the top six front teeth, the witness was of the opinion that the defendant’s teeth were consistent with the victim’s wounds in the area of the right collarbone, photographs of which showed marks made by top front teeth with such spacing between them. The witness described Paul Main’s teeth as severely crowded with no spacing between them at all and expressed the opinion that Paul Main’s teeth could not have caused the injury pattern in question. The witness expressed the further opinion that the teeth of Joe Seitz, a model of whose teeth he had also examined, could not have caused this injury pattern. The witness testified that nothing about the quality of the photographs of the victim concerned him with regard to his opinion that the defendant’s teeth were consistent with the wounds in question. The witness indicated that anyone viewing the body, clad in the buttoned sweater and bound about the neck by the two socks tied together, could not possibly have seen the bite marks on the body because they were covered.

Dr. Lowell Levine, who was qualified as an expert in forensic dentistry, testified that there were two or three human bite marks, some of which were superimposed upon one another, shown in the photographs of the victim. The witness was of the opinion, on the basis of the spacing pattern of the defendant’s upper front teeth, that the defendant’s teeth could have caused the injury pattern in question on the victim’s body and that the teeth of Paul Main and Joe Seitz could not.

Dr. Ronald Mullen, the defendant’s dentist, testified that the defendant’s dental impressions reveal multiple spaces, called diastemata, in the upper front teeth. The witness stated that he has practiced as a dentist for 17 years and has treated 6,000 to 7,000 patients; he estimated that spacing between all six upper front teeth occurred in less than 1% of his patients. On cross-examination he estimated that he had seen such spacing “less than fifteen” times.

2017 will be a pivotal year for BMs – will they survive?

About Odont1

Odont1 is a seasoned forensic dentist, researcher and educator with an interest in progressing the science of the discipline while retaining those elements that are evidence based and useful to the judicial system at any level.

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