A scientific panel in Texas has recommended that bite-mark analysis not be admissible as evidence in criminal court cases.
The Texas Forensic Science Commission panel recommended a “moratorium on bite-mark evidence” until there are scientific standards to determine what a bite mark is and “proficiency testing of individuals who analyze them.”
The decision out of the Lone Star state, which has one of the “best-funded forensic science commissions” in the country, could lead judicial systems in other states to exclude bite-mark evidence also, Reuters reports.
The panel concluded that techniques to determine the source of marks are ‘unreliable.’ Studies that were presented to the panel showed that “human flesh is not a good source to record the marks.”
While bite-mark analysis is used less frequently now due to DNA testing — for decades, the distinct marks on the flesh of victims, was used in U.S. courts as evidence. The marks most often helped to identify suspects in murders, sexual assaults and child abuse cases.
Chris Fabricant, with the Innocence Project, says, “This commission’s findings are incredibly significant because no other agency or scientific body has ever opined on the admissibility of bite mark analysis.” The Innocence Project is a non-profit legal organization that is committed to exonerating wrongly convicted people through the use of scientific testing.
“Today is the beginning of the end for the use of bite-mark analysis in courts all over the country,” said Peter Bush, a forensic dentistry expert at the University of Buffalo.
But other experts disagree, and say, the panel’s recommendation is “off the mark.” The TFSC’s decision will go to the full body as early as Friday, where it will likely be approved.
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