CA Sct Reconsideration of Bite Mark Case

Read this about the California Innocence Project client Bill Richards’ case, which went before the state Supreme Court last week for reconsideration.  The forensic dentist’s recanted testimony he gave at Richards’ 1997 trial – Richards now seeks a new trial.

“Richards was convicted in 1997 of beating his wife to death and sentenced to life in prison. The primary evidence used against Richards was the expert testimony of forensic dentist Norman Sperber who at the trial presented the jury with what the Intercept describes as a ‘blown-up image of the alleged bite mark covered by an overlay of Richard’s teeth.’”

“Sperber ultimately concluded that Richards’ teeth were consistent with the mark on the victim, but 11 years later, at an evidentiary hearing, Sperber recanted his testimony. He said that ‘he’d used a distorted photo’ of the victim’s hand ‘in order to make the overlay exhibit,’ reports the Intercept, and admitted that there was ‘simply no science’ to support his conclusions that Richards’ teeth matched the marks on the victim.”

After the trial judge granted relief, “an appeals court rejected the trial court’s conclusions, and the California Supreme Court followed suit in a controversial 2012 opinion,” which led to enactment of the “Bill Richards Bill,” which allows a court to overturn a conviction based on changed scientific understanding.  Now the case is being heard again – “Lawyers from the Innocence Project’s Strategic Litigation team helped write an amicus brief on behalf of the Innocence Project. The prosecution and the defense made their arguments last week.”

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