Bite Mark Analysis
Criminal cases many times call for the examination of evidence that can tie a suspect or victim to a crime scene or to one another. These physical traces frequently include blood and other bodily fluids, hair, fibers, and even bite marks. Here we will focus our attention to the latter and its accuracy, as it applies to the field of forensic science referred to forensic odontology or forensic dentistry. Forensic odontology is the field of forensic science dealing with the recognition of unique attributes present in each individual's dental composition. This branch of forensics relies heavily on extensive and detailed knowledge of the teeth, jaws, and dental anatomy possessed by a dentist. In addition to this knowledge, the forensic dentist must be well-versed in the interpretations of radiographs, pathology, charting, and types of dental treatment. The forensic dentist is dutifully responsible for the proper handling, assessment, and evaluation of dental evidence in the name of justice. The dentist is the key to identification based upon the distinctive features present in the dental structures of each individual. Identification of deceased individuals who cannot be identified by other means, identification of human remains, identification of victims in mass fatalities, assessment of bite mark patterns, and age estimation using teeth are all part of the role of forensic odontologists as well. Identification of an assailant by comparing a record of their dentition with a record of a bite mark left on a victim and the presentation of bite mark evidence in court as an expert witness are also done as part of the job. Bite mark comparison is one of the major and newer parts of this forensic discipline that has been evolving since the 1970s and has played a major role in many cases and the convictions of many criminal including the infamous Ted Bundy who was convicted solely on evidence of a bite mark analysis. However, recently, there has been a lot of debating around the accuracy of a bite mark comparisons and if it can truly assist in accurately identifying suspect as the biter in an attack. For example, in 1991 Ray Krone, a former letter carrier without a criminal record, honorably discharged from the U.S. Air Force was charged with taking the life of a Phoenix cocktail waitress, Kim Ancona. A body examination revealed that she had been stabbed eleven times and bitten on the left breast and on her neck. Forensic evidence, or lack of it, indicated that there were no fingerprints and other bodily fluids although there was indication that she had been sexually assaulted. There was little evidence that tied Krone to the crime except for evidence of the bite mark on the victim's breast, which a state forensic odontologist, Dr. Raymond Rawosn, said matched his very distinct teeth. The bite mark testimony of Dr. Rawson convinced the jury that Krone was guilty and he was convicted. During the time of prosecution, forensic DNA technology was not generally available, but once it was, Ray Krone was proved innocent of the crime. A DNA test not only established that he was not involved in the fatal stabbing, but that also identified the true perpetrator – a person already incarcerated on another unrelated offense. After being cleared by DNA, Ray Krone walked out of the Arizona State Penitentiary at Yuma on April 8, 2002, a free man. In another case, Ricky Amolsch, 38, ended up in jail for ten months over a mistake that a forensic dentist made. His girlfriend, Jane Marie Fray was gruesomely stabbed twenty-two times and an electrical cord was wrapped tightly around her neck. She was also bitten near her left ear. Amolsch was arrested, photographed and fingerprinted. The chief forensic odontologist for Wayne and Oakland Counties, Dr. Allan Warnick’s claims of a bite mark match persuaded the district judge to sign a capital warrant. The preliminary hearing...
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