Blood Spatter Evidence in Bryan Case

Recent testimony from an evidentiary hearing in the Joe Bryan case in Texas has centered on blood spatter interpretation. Bryan was a school principal who has been serving a 99-year prison sentence for the 1985 murder of his wife. His conviction was based in part on the testimony of an expert witness in blood spatter interpretation.

The blood spatter testimony indicated that the weapon used was a .357, like the one that Bryan owned. The prosecution stated that a flashlight found in Bryan’s car days after the murder contained small drops of the victim’s blood, although only presumptive tests were conducted. The blood spatter analyst testified the killer held the flashlight as he shot from close range.

Bryan continues to assert his innocence and an evidentiary hearing was held last month in which his attorney argued – backed by the testimony of a crime scene investigator – that the blood spatter testimony presented at trial was scientifically unsubstantiated. The hearing is currently in recess, awaiting the results of DNA testing on the flashlight that are expected to come back sometime in the fall.

In May, Pamela Collof published a two-part article describing in-depth the background of the case and the testimony of the blood spatter expert witness. The articles are available at: https://features.propublica.org/blood-spatter/mickey-bryan-murder-blood-spatter-forensic-evidence/ (Part I) and https://features.propublica.org/blood-spatter/joe-bryan-conviction-blood-spatter-forensic-evidence/ (Part II).

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