In an April deposition for a Mississippi death penalty case involving defendant Eddie Lee Howard, Michael West was asked to testify about his expert opinion provided in a trial more than two decades ago. West frequently refused to answer questions and simply answered that he stands by his previous testimony. Defense attorney and Director of Strategic Litigation for the Innocence Project Chris Fabricant gave West many opportunities to review his previous testimony, but West refused to do so. Throughout the heated deposition, West used profanity and called Fabricant a “sociopath” among other insults. The case is one of many in which West testified as an expert witness that is now under review for claims of actual innocence and misleading forensic science testimony. A telling exchange in the deposition reveals West’s attitude toward these questionable cases:
Q. I know that you know Vincent Di Maio, right?
Q. And you testified before in the Hayne deposition that he was at one time also a believer in bite mark analysis. You made reference to his book?
A. I don’t remember.
Q. Let me see where that is.
A. Do you understand the difference between “I stand by what I testified” and “I don’t remember”?
A. Do you know the difference between those two statements?
Q. The reason — I do. I’m sorry.
A. Well, then why are you beating me to death with this? I told you if it’s in the transcript, I stand by it. If I remembered it — I don’t remember what the f**k I had for breakfast two years ago, but I do believe I ate eggs.
Q. Okay. The reason that it’s important — shall I explain it to you?
Q. Okay — is that if you just say that I can’t remember, then I can’t ask you a question about what you said.
A. Okay. Well, I don’t remember.
A. You shouldn’t have waited 20-something years.
Q. Right. I didn’t have anything to do with that.
A. Then you should have got on board early.
Q. You’re right.
A. Where the hell were you when we were looking at this dead woman’s body?
A. Sitting around jerking off in New York? We were trying to find the truth.
Q. Yeah, I was in high school.
A. And then go come — well, you want ought to go your ass back. I’m tired of you goddamn picking on me.
Q. Well, if we could keep going straight forward, you’ll be out of here sooner than later. So I’m going to go back to what you said before —
A. Go ahead.
Q. — and remind you —
A. Get it over with. I’m tired of this crap. I don’t care if they put him to death. I don’t care if you put a statue up to him. I’m out of this. Let me go. Y’all do whatever the hell you want to. I’m not in it anymore.
Q. Unfortunately, some of the case —
A. Cut him loose then.
A. If I have to do time for this man to be punished for his crime, I say cut him loose. I’m tired of being punished.