Experts Question the Reliability of Bite Mark Evidence


Juries in Tennessee and around the country tend to find forensic evidence extremely compelling. This worries experts because modern forensics is sometimes based on incomplete, flawed or debunked science. About a quarter of the 2,601 people exonerated since 1989 were convicted based on forensic evidence, and 26 of them found themselves behind bars because experts claimed that they left bite marks on their alleged victims. The science surrounding bite marks has been largely discredited, and even state agencies like the Texas Forensic Science Commission have called for it to be excluded in criminal trials.

Questionable science

There are several problems with bite mark evidence. The way teeth are arranged cannot be used to conclusively identify an individual, and bite marks on human skin are notoriously difficult to identify. The American Board of Forensic Odontology conducted a study into bite mark evidence in 2015. Dentists asked to analyze images of bite marks were rarely able to say with any confidence that the wound was caused by a bite.

Wrongful conviction

The questionable science of bite marks attracted media attention in 2015 when a Mississippi man was exonerated after spending 15 years in prison for a rape and murder that he did not commit. He was convicted in 1992 after a forensic odontologist testified with certainty that wounds on the victim’s body were his bite marks. Police found the body in a creek, and it is now believed that the wounds were caused by crawfish. The forensic odontologist was later suspended by the ABFO and ousted by the American Board of Forensic Pathology. This kind of mistake has prompted legislators in several states to pass laws allowing prison inmates to file appeals when new scientific discoveries raise questions about the evidence used to convict them. Tennessee currently has no such law.

Defense experts

Experienced criminal defense attorneys may pay close attention to developments in forensic science and studies like the one conducted by the ABFO. They could also call on experts of their own when prosecutors plan to introduce forensic evidence that may be based on flawed science.



    "Best decision I made to hire Meredith."
    Meredith got both charges dismissed and I only have to take a class. Thanks so much Meredith! You are the best!
    - Lorrie C.
    "Ms. Mochel resolved my case exactly how she intended doing so from the moment I hired her."
    I experienced excellent communication, patience, reliability, and trust to say the least. Ms. Mochel provided me with ease of mind from start to finish throughout the entire legal process.
    - JR
    "Meredith Saved My Life"
    Well she got the case dismissed and record expunged before I was ever booked. Can't get any favorable than that. Thank You Meredith.
    - Former Client
    "She concluded my case with such a favorable outcome, and brought such a level of peace to our household. Thank you Meredith, and we love you!"
    She has become an extended part of our family and, because of her, I can raise my newborn and be here for the rest of my family!
    - Alric
    "I would recommend Meredith to anyone who needs legal counsel following a DUI charge."
    She took the time to listen to my case and develop an action plan. Meredith was able to reduce my charges and will remove them from my record following a probationary period.
    - Jeff
    "Top notch."
    Meredith has years of in-depth experience with criminal matters, and a great track record of success, but she offers much more than her legal expertise.
    - Chuck L.
    "My outcome was far better than I could have imagined thanks to Meredith."
    When we met, she explained the legal system, the legal process and my rights. She was knowledgeable, sincere and caring in her approach.
    - Jim
    "We were not treated like robots that were giving funds for the next vacation."
    Ms. Mochel dealt with all issues with earnest and legitimate care. We were not treated like robots that were giving funds for the next vacation. She is knowledgeable of current laws governing options for legal and criminal offenses. I highly recommend Meredith Mochel to defend and stand for your rights in any Court of Law.
    - Denny