Expert disagreement in bitemark casework

C. Michael Bowers, Iain Pretty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Bitemark cases continue to raise controversy due to the degree of expert disagreement which is frequently seen. Using a case mix of 49 bitemark cases from 2000 to 2007 each injury was independently assessed for its forensic significance using a previously described bitemark severity scale. Following the assessment, the mean value for the bites was categorized according to the crime type, the degree of expert agreement, and the judicial outcome. Results suggest that bitemarks found in child abuse cases have statistically significantly lower forensic value than those in other crime types, that bites where there is mutual agreement between experts will have higher forensic value than those where there is disagreement at trial, and that cases in which DNA has provided an exoneration will demonstrate similar quality to those where a conviction was secured. Forensic odontologists should carefully assess bitemark evidence and ensure that it meets certain minimums in relation to the presence of class and unique features before undertaking an analysis. © 2009 American Academy of Forensic Sciences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)915-918
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Forensic Sciences
Volume54
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2009

Keywords

  • bitemarks
  • disagreement
  • Forensic science
  • legal
  • quality
  • validity

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