I've been following Radley Balko's tireless pursuit against railroad justice for as long as he has been writing about it--nearly to the point I don't even blink anymore when he points out another case of evidence tampering, of police and prosecutors cutting corners, and in particular, of the dubious forensic "science" practiced by people like Mississippi's Dr. Steven Hayne. But this story he breaks today in reason is just unbelievable.

In 1993, the two [Hayne and colleague Micheal West] conducted an examination on a 23-month-old girl named Haley Oliveaux of West Monroe, Louisiana, who had drowned in her bathtub. The video shows bite marks mysteriously appearing on the toddler's face during the time she was in the custody of Hayne and West. It then shows West repeatedly and methodically pressing and scraping a dental mold of a man's teeth on the dead girl's skin. Forensic scientists who have viewed the footage say the video reveals not only medical malpractice, but criminal evidence tampering.

The linked article contains photos and an excerpt of a video, which it should be said are as graphic as they are damning.

The man from whose teeth the mold was made was convicted of raping and murdering the girl. The only evidence of this crime was the dubious bite mark. He has been on death row in Louisiana for 10 years. (It should be said that Mr. Duncan is not strictly "innocent" here, and that he was likely responsible for negligent homicide of the girl...he admitted as much to police. But that's still damn long way from raping and murdering an toddler.)

There is no telling how many people are in prison, on death row, or dead at the hands of the state that have been wrongly convicted based on the work of these people. But the states of Mississippi and Louisiana had better start looking into it.


Gino said...

this would stop in the folks responsible actually did hard time, but the system protects its own.

nifong tried to send four men away for life terms. what did he get when he was caught? a wrist slap.
he should have gotten 20+ to life.

Brian said...

I'm not going to defend Mike Nifong, but what he did is not even in the same ballpark as flagrant fabrication of evidence in a capital case.

I'm not sure I'd call being disbarred a slap on the wrist either...particularly as the case in question never even went to trial, much less resulted in prison time for the accused.

KeepDurhamDifferent! said...

Happy Mardi Gras from New Orleans. Can't believe I have to drive back to Durham tomorrow, where Nifong should have gotten much, much worse.

I'm looking forward to Bob Steel and the other trustees facing the music. Some of us Dukies saw right through this from the start.