Monday, September 20, 2010

Government "Expert" Witnesses: Fraud Abounds

One of the reasons that I am so down on the Children's Advocacy Center of the LMJC is that I see the real damage that so-called government expert witnesses can do. Perhaps we should not be surprised when Chris "Alberto-Facebook" Arnt and Len "The Man-Racist-Misogynist-Homophobe" Gregor claim that the CAC witnesses were brilliant, while people like Dr. Nancy Aldridge and Dr. William Bernet, both highly respected in their fields, were "liars" and "whores."

Yes, it seems that along with foisting lies and bad services, governments also like to provide us with fraudulent "expert" witnesses, and perhaps the worst offenders are the prosecutors of Mississippi. Now, Mississippi has been a study in injustice for a long time, given its awful civil rights history which, like that of Georgia, includes numerous murders for which there were no prosecutions, much less no convictions. Georgia and Mississippi both made it de facto legal for whites to kill blacks and people of both states seemed to take pride in the fact that murder was legal there.

Today, the politicians and the "justice" system players like to claim that things have changed, but I don't think so. In Catoosa County, the authorities still are trying to wrongly convict Eric Echols who the last time I checked still was African-American. Mississippi does Catoosa County one better: the state has a number of blacks on death row, put there due to the fraudulent testimony of Steven Hayne and Michael West.

This latest dispatch from Radley Balko is the kind of thing that should make one's blood boil, as Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood is trying to railroad a man to the execution chamber despite the fraudulence of the "expert" testimony that put him there. Mr. Balko writes about the upcoming execution of Eddie Lee Howard:
In 1994 Eddie Lee Howard was convicted of raping and murdering 84-year-old Georgia Kemp. Kemp was found dead in her Columbus, Mississippi, home by firefighters after a neighbor noticed smoke coming from the house. Investigators determined the fire was set intentionally.

Kemp's body was taken to controversial Mississippi medical examiner Steven Hayne, who would later lose his lucrative niche as the state's go-to guy for autopsies after years of criticism for sloppy work that rarely failed to confirm prosecutors' suspicions. Hayne concluded that Kemp died of knife wounds and said he found signs of rape, although the rape kit taken from Kemp turned up no biological evidence that the technology available at the time could test for DNA.

Three days after Kemp was buried, District Attorney Forrest Allgood, the chief prosecutor for the four counties of Mississippi's 16th District, zeroed in on Howard, who at the time was unemployed and living with a relative down the street from Kemp's house, as the culprit. Once Howard was identified as a suspect, Hayne suddenly recalled seeing marks on Kemp's body that could have been made by human teeth (Hayne's original autopsy report makes no mention of the bite marks). So Kemp's body was exhumed and given to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, dentist Michael West, a self-proclaimed expert in bite mark analysis and frequent beneficiary of Hayne's referrals. West confirmed that the marks were indeed bite impressions and that some of them could only have been made by Howard's upper teeth—a puzzling claim, since Howard's upper teeth were a mass-manufactured denture. Howard was convicted and sentenced to death in 1994. The Mississippi Supreme Court later gave Howard a new trial, ruling he was unfit to represent himself at trial. He was again convicted and again sentenced to death in 2000.

West's bite mark testimony is the only physical evidence linking Howard to the crime scene. (The other evidence against Howard includes incriminating statements he allegedly made to a police officer that were not recorded or written down and testimony from an ex-girlfriend that Howard smelled of smoke the day after Kemp's murder.) At the time of Howard's conviction, West was a star forensic witness, claiming to have perfected a method of bite mark analysis no other forensic specialist could duplicate. But since Howard's conviction, West has become the poster boy for forensic fakery.

West, who once claimed he could trace the tooth marks in a half-eaten bologna sandwich at a crime scene to a defendant while excluding everyone else on the planet, has had to resign from two professional forensics organizations due to his habit of giving testimony unsupported by science. In 2001 (as I reported last year) a defense lawyer caught West in a sting aimed at revealing him as a charlatan: West matched the dental mold of a private investigator to unrelated photos of bite marks from a crime committed eight years earlier. West even sent back a video in which he methodically went through his technique. Despite all this, the Mississippi Supreme Court upheld Howard's conviction and death sentence in 2006. With respect to West, the majority concluded, "Just because Dr. West has been wrong a lot, does not mean, without something more, that he was wrong here."

Since then a wave of new revelations (described in more detail below) has confirmed that Steven Hayne and Michael West are not credible expert witnesses. Last month Howard and his attorneys at the Mississippi Innocence Project cited some of that evidence in asking the Mississippi Supreme Court for a new trial. In response, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood does not argue that Michael West is a credible expert or that his testimony in Howard's case had any scientific foundation. Instead Hood argues that because the Mississippi Supreme Court already has upheld West's testimony in the face of criticism, Howard is procedurally barred from again citing West's quackery in a bid for a new trial.

The argument may arguably be legally correct, but Hood is not obligated to make it. Hood, whose duty is not just to win cases but to pursue justice, should have the decency to review every case in which West has ever testified. Instead, in the face of growing evidence that the criminal justice system he presides over has been corrupted by unreliable expert witnesses, Hood is essentially arguing that Eddie Lee Howard should be sent to the death chamber on a technicality.
Now, if you think Jim Hood is a liar and a charlatan, you are right. But, replace his name with Thurbert Baker or Len Gregor, Buzz Franklin, or Chris Arnt, and you have the same kind of person.

More and more, we are seeing dishonest and venal people self-selecting into the office of prosecutor. For the most part, Americans are quite satisfied with this sorry state of affairs -- or they are satisfied until something happens to them and then they begin to understand what is happening.

Prosecutors are more likely to try to get fraudulent "expert" witnesses because they are more likely to lie, as we saw Suzi Thorne do during Tonya Craft's trial. When I asked Ione Sells about Nancy Aldridge having testified for the prosecution, she laughed and said, "She has not testified for the prosecution since 2007." My sense is that she is right, but if I understand the present mentality in the typical prosecutor's office, the last thing prosecutors want is an expert witness who is both competent AND truthful.

No, prosecutors are quite happy with people like Steven Hayne and Michael West. The LMJC is not alone in being Perjury Central.


Doc Ellis said...


Thank you

Doc Ellis 124

KC Sprayberry said...

Interesting to include Thurbert Baker but he is as corrupt as those others you pinpointed. Baker not only fought for and won a harsh conviction for an African American teen, he admitted he went for the harsher sentence because of the young man's race - the same as his own. When appealed to step in during the Tonya Craft trial, Baker ignored the appeals and then had the audacity to claim only three came to his office, three he released to Buzz Franklin and through that DA to the media. But only NCSlime. Very convenient for the local prosecutors to have a media outlet ready and willing to prove their cases just prior to or right after an arrest. Makes it so much easier to get that 98% conviction rate they wave around for all to see. Of course, it really helps when one of the production managers is married to a local deputy. Thanks again, Bill. Your blog has uncovered a lot of slime around here. Now that it's in the open rather than lurking under the surface, people aren't willing to put up with it any longer.

Trish said...

2007 is only three years ago, Ione Sells makes it sound like it has been decades since Nancy Aldridge testified for the prosecution. I think you are correct, in that they didn't want her expert testimony anymore, as it hurt their chances at a conviction!!! They don't want the truth, just convictions and it doesn't matter, if the person convicted is actually innocent.

It is sad to think of the number of innocent people who are sitting in prison today or even worse have been put to death!!! And, so many of them are there, because they were too poor or uneducated to be able to mount a strong defense. Which, leads me to say something else, and I know it will make lawyers mad, but it all comes back to money!!! Yes, there are public defenders and often they are good attorneys, but they have limited funds and resources and often have such a heavy caseload that those false accused fall through the cracks or they end up pleading guilty, just to get it all over with.

Bill, keep shedding light on these atrocities and maybe America will wake up and demand that we have justice in our legal system!!

Anonymous said...

There is a saying that is often very true, "One only sees evil in others to the extent it exists in themselves." Such is the case for the LMJC thugs. If the DAs called an expert a whore, its only because of their own capacity to hire "whores." In other words, their statements are a reflection of themselves more than they are statements about the intended target. It's a popular tactic to call someone a "whore" but is there anything to it? The rub is in the reason Ms. Aldridge hasnt testified for the prosecution, which we havent heard much about. If I had to speculate, I would guess that Ms. Aldridge refuses to be a puppet for the prosecution. She knows that convicting the person who should be in jail is more important than getting a conviction for bragging rights. And it should be. Putting the wrong person in jail means (most of the time) that the real offender is still hunting children. In TC's case, while there was an underlying crime, it was against her and perpetrated by LMJC.

Anonymous said...

Bill, as always I enjoy your comments and observations both here and on LRC. In the vein of this article and the general corruption within the (non) Justice System, may I refer you to the recent conviction of Peter E. Hendrickson. Pete's crime was that of not committing perjury in court, as the judge and prosecutor instructed. When not committing a crime, as directed by the court, lands you in jail, and committing a crime outside of court of your own will lands you in jail, what is a person to do to stay free of jail? It seems, in today's America, nothing!

The record and transcripts of Pete's trial can be found at and do nothing but add to the growing mountain of evidence that the courts and prosecutors are the truly corrupt among us; along with the politicians, of course.

Have a look and see for yourself another glaring example of justice gone feral!

Anonymous said...

People better wake up, next time it may be you.. Please tell me there are some good people out there, that cares about the truth.
Another great blog, Thank you Mr, Anderson for your time, I can't wait to read your Blog.

Anonymous said...

Anon. 4:10 Sad to say, I don't know if there is anyone in the legal/justice system who cares about the truth anymore.

Anonymous said...

There is no justice anymore unless you have money! These folks are the Mafia made over. No one really cares about many of the things that go on simply because their to busy trying to stay as far away as they can so they don't get caught up in the nightmare. So just stay under your rock soon it will be you facing some ordeal with the justice mafia and there want be anyony left to help.

Anonymous said...

God Bless you Mr. Anderson! I do not know how you do it but PLEASE keep on!!

Doc Ellis said...

At the height of a political corruption trial, the prosecuting attorney attacked a witness.
“Isn’t it true,” he bellowed, “that you accepted five thousand dollars to compromise this case?”
The witness stared out the window, as though he hadn’t hear the question.
“Isn’t it true that you accepted five thousand dollars to compromise this case?” the lawyer repeated. The witness still did not respond.
Finally, the judge leaned over and said, “Sir, please answer the question.”
“Oh,” the startled witness said, “I thought he was talking to you.”

Doc Ellis said...

An attorney passed on and found himself in heaven.
But not at all happy with his accommodations, he complained to St. Peter, who told him that his only recourse was to appeal his assignment.
The attorney immediately advised that he intended to appeal, but was then told that he would be waiting at least three years before his appeal could be heard.
The attorney protested that a three year wait was unconscionable, but his words fell on deaf ears.
The lawyer was then approached by the devil, who told him that he would be able to arrange an appeal to be heard in a few days, if the attorney was willing to change venue to Hell.
When the attorney asked why appeals could be heard so much sooner in Hell, he was told, “We have all of the judges.”

Leretseh said...

Based on what I've read, and my acute knowledge of black male predatory crimes, I believe this black male is guilty. Another "Fair Housing Act' brutal homicide. MO is all too familiar...