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Advances in Forensic Fire Science leads to man’s release after 36 years in prison

By: , Posted on: January 27, 2015

This article originally appeared on, Michael’s personal blog. Click here for the original article.

060921-A-4543J-003The article at the end quotes the defense attorney saying “the criminal justice system works.” Thats one side of the coin, and it may be a bit of a stretch, but is not the entire story. It has taken forensic science decades (on a State-by State basis in their courts) to revamp its research and courtroom testimony to debunk entrenched resistance to modernizing into fire science-based methods. This has largely been accomplished by one man, John Lentini. His colleagues have given him considerable support.

Juxtapose this with the American Academy of Sciences long acceptance of bitemark pattern identification as a science with all the trappings of DNA. This prosyletizing will continue to appear at next month’s AAFS meeting in Orlando Florida. AAFS members will still run their “Bitemark Workshop” at the end of this annual meeting.

I caution any new people attending the AAFS bitemark activities (aka “odontology”) to listen to the “ipse dixit” approach in use by the bitemark adherents.

This bodes ill for those of us who argue in criminal courts and at meetings in support of the NAS 2009 report on bitemark evidence stating bitemarks by themselves (i.e. in no DNA collection cases) is prejudicial to a fair trial. The NAS expected empirical research to be done by this small group of dentist experts. So far they only have come up with “The Tree.”

If I may, I’d like to compare myself and much-valued colleagues in forensic reform to Mr. Lentini in one respect, We have gotten nothing but appalling flak from the bitemark believers and their AAFS supporters.

Read the full article on the fire science exoneration here. 

forensic testimonyRead more from Michael:

Michael’s most recent book Forensic Testimony: Science, Law and Expert Evidence is available on the Elsevier store for a 30% discount. Just use discount code “STC215” at checkout and save!

About Michael Bowers:

Michael BowersC. Michael Bowers, DDS, JD is a practicing forensic dentist and consultant who has testified and worked on hundreds of cases where dental evidence has been involved. He is a Senior Crime Scene Analyst for the International Association for Identification (IAI) and has written other articles, chapters and books on forensic dentistry. He owns and operates his own dental practice in Ventura, CA.

Additionally, he is a Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and a past member of the editorial board for the Journal of Forensic Sciences. He is author of Forensic Dental Evidence, published by Elsevier’s Academic Press in 2010, and his new book, Forensic Testimony: Science, Law and Expert Evidence will be published in October 2013.

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Forensic Sciences

Forensic science is a key component of criminal investigation and civil law worldwide. This broad-based field ranges over topics as varied as DNA typing, osteology, neuropathology, psychology, crime scene photography, ballistics, criminal profiling, and more. Elsevier provides forensics publications that cover all these topics, written by top authorities, to students, professors, researchers, and professionals.