To read the entire Bite Mark Report from the Texas Forensics Commission click below
Pages 12 through 14 below:
CASE REVIEW RESULTS Commission staff identified 36 total cases for possible transcript review. Of these, six cases were prescreened out by the staff (three of the cases were Washington, Williams and Chaney; two cases had no bite mark testimony; one case was a 1954 robbery involving bite mark impressions in cheese (Doyle v. State, 159 Tex. Crim. 310, 263 S.W.2d 779 (1954)). The team screened the remaining 30 cases and removed another 21 from transcript review after analyzing the cases under the initial screening criteria. (See Exhibit D.) The team reviewed five transcripts at its March 10, 2017 meeting and recommended notification for four of the five cases. (See Exhibit E for notification letters and transcripts.) Of the cases for which notification was recommended, three resulted in the team answering all review questions affirmatively. The fourth case involved two experts providing testimony with the team answering all three review questions affirmatively for the first expert and only the first review question affirmatively for the second expert. At its September 8, 2017 meeting, the team reviewed the remaining four transcripts and recommended notification for three cases. Of these three cases, one involved the team answering the first and third review questions affirmatively while the team answered all three review questions affirmatively in the other two cases. It is also important to note that one case involved the team answering all three review questions affirmatively for two witnesses.
I. DECEASED INDIVIDUALS AND INDIVIDUALS EXONERATED BY DNA 1) David Wayne Spence
David Wayne Spence’s case is not new to the forensic odontology community and this is not the first time the bite mark evidence and/or related testimony has been reviewed by ABFO experts. Spence was executed in 1997 for the 1982 murders of three teenagers near Lake Waco in McLennan County, Texas. Forensic odontologist Dr. Homer Campbell identified Spence as having made several of the wounds on two of the victims. To make his determination, Dr. Campbell reviewed autopsy photos and compared the wounds to a dental mold taken of Spence’s teeth. Based on this comparison Dr. Campbell concluded that Spence’s teeth had made the marks, testifying that Spence was “the only individual” to a “reasonable medical and dental certainty” who could have made the bite marks in question. In 1993, Spence’s appellate lawyers assembled a blind team of ABFO odontologists to perform a two-part review. First, to review the autopsy photos for marks and then to compare the marks with dental molds from Spence and four other individuals. While they could identify a few patterns that may have been indicators of human bite marks, the experts were unable to state much else about the evidence. None of the experts were able to “match” Spence’s mold to the marks. Only one was able to “match” 16 a mark to one of the molds but it was not Spence’s. The team reviewed Dr. Campbell’s testimony and concurred with the ABFO panel’s prior assessment that the testimony was unsupportable. The team reviewed the transcripts of both of Spence’s murder trials at their March 10, 2017 meeting. For each trial, the team answered all three review criteria questions affirmatively. 2) Calvin Washington and Joe Sydney Williams 16 See Commission’s prior report for discussion regarding why the concept of “matching” human dentition to a patterned injury is scientifically unsupportable: http://www.fsc.texas.gov/blog/2016-04-18/fsc-releases-reportforensic-bitemark-comparison-complaint-filed-national-innocence
Approximately a year after the Lake Waco murders occurred, David Spence’s mother was sexually assaulted and murdered in her McLennan County home. Dr. Homer Campbell was again consulted and he determined that Spence’s mother had been bitten and the bites were “consistent with” the dentition of Joe Williams. Based largely on this finding, both Williams and Washington were convicted of the rape and murder. In 2000, DNA testing was conducted on the vaginal and anal swabs from the victim and both Washington and Williams were excluded. Because both men were previously exonerated the team did not obtain or review the testimony from their convictions. J. CONCLUDING COMMENTS While Texas may be one of the first states to undertake a statewide review of bite mark comparison cases, it should not be the last. The Commission and review team encourage other jurisdictions to take a similar approach to conducting retroactive case reviews for the purpose of protecting against potential miscarriages of justice. No review process is perfect, and every state would need to consider the approach that makes most sense given the resources available. The Commission and review team would welcome the opportunity to assist other states interested in performing a similar review. Finally, the Commission is grateful for the assistance of numerous individuals and organizations, including the members of the review team, the ABFO, the national Innocence Project, the Conviction Integrity Units of the District Attorney’s Offices in Dallas, Tarrant and Harris counties, the National Museum of Health and Medicine, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and the Texas State Archives.
EXHIBITS TO THIS REPORT ARE VOLUMINOUS. TO REQUEST COPIES OF EXHIBTS PLEASE CONTACT THE TEXAS FORENSIC SCIENCE COMMISSION VIA EMAIL TO INFO@FSC.TEXAS.GOV OR BY PHONE AT 512-936-0770.
So bite marks are out, they had no other evidence, and Truman shredded Gilbert’s truck at Lipshitz while Vic Feazell doesn’t believe in DNA “in this case.”
I decided that for myself the Texas Forensics Decision was going to be the end of it for me. The truck shredding started my journey and although bite marks going to hell will be like kissing your sister, much like the Mueller Report, I’dve rather had DNA but am satisfied with the Decision of these experts.
Spence and the others. Innocent. bite marks out.