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New development in Richards’ Case

William RichardsA San Bernardino man convicted of murder in part because of discredited forensic evidence will have his case reviewed again by the California Supreme Court.

Meeting in closed session, the justices decided unanimously Wednesday to hear a challenge by William Richards, who was found guilty of murdering his wife, Pamela, in 1991. The state’s high court examined Richards’ case in 2012 and refused to overturn his conviction. In response to that 4-3 decision, the Legislature passed a bill that said discredited forensic testimony amounts to false evidence and can be grounds for a new trial. The California Innocence Project asked the court to reconsider Richards’ case in light of the new law.

Wrongful bitemark evidence now considered false evidence - and a new trial Click To Tweet

Richards, 65, was tried three times. Juries deadlocked in the first two trials. In the third, a dental expert testified that a lesion on the Pamela’s body was a bite mark that matched Richard’s unusual tooth pattern. The jury convicted. The expert later recanted, saying he had been mistaken. Two of the justices who voted against Richards in 2012 are no longer on the court. In a brief order, the court asked the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to respond to Richards’ challenge.

You can read more about the details of this case on our detailed case page here and there is a great NPR piece here that explains a little more:


You can read more detail on California’s new Law here, and more detail on bitemark cases that have resulted in wrongful convictions here.

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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