Framed for Murder?

Dr. Michael West is a bite mark expert. His testimony helps prosecutors to put people behind bars. Take the case of Haley Oliveaux, a dead toddler. Prosecutors charged a guy named Jimmie Duncan with murdering her.

During Jimmie Duncan’s trial, Dr. Michael West testified that he found bite marks on the victim that matched the defendant’s teeth. Due to that evidence, Jimmy Duncan is on death row.


“Several months ago,” writes Radley Balko, “I was able to obtain a pretty shocking video of one of Dr. Michael West’s infamous post-mortem ‘bite mark examinations.’”

The video clearly shows that when the body of Haley Oliveaux was handed over to West and Hayne, her face was free of any abrasions or bite marks. Her cheek is clean.

The second portion of the video, taken the following day, then shows a striking abrasion. That abrasion could only have been inflicted by someone in Hayne’s office. The video also shows that Hayne must have been lying when he testified at trial that he found bite marks on the Oliveaux’s cheek, then called West in to do an analysis. The first portion of the video, taken after Hayne’s initial exam, shows no such bite marks.

The more obvious thing the video shows is Michael West repeatedly jamming, scraping, and pushing a mold of Jimmie Duncan’s teeth into Haley Oliveaux’s body, actions experts to whom I’ve shown the video say amount to criminal evidence tampering. The excerpt posted at Reason is only 30 seconds long. But the full video spans 24 minutes, during which West uses the mold to desecrate Oliveaux’s body at least 50 times.

Go read Radley’s story at Reason, or at least click through so the magazine gets due credit for bankrolling such important work. Radley also offers more details on his blog.