The Mississippi Innocence Project is representing a Mississippi woman who was convicted largely on the testimony of a discredited forensic expert.
Leigh Stubbs was convicted in 2001 of assault and of stealing Oxycontin and methadone and sentenced to 44 years in prison.
Earlier this week, Radley Balko wrote about the unreliable science and discredited expert testimony from Michael West that was used to convict Stubbs in the Huffington Post.
West testified that faded bite marks matched dental impressions taken of Stubbs and that security camera footage showed her anxiously moving a body, despite the FBI finding nothing incriminating on the same tape.
A decade before Stubbs was convicted, West’s bite mark testimony in a murder case cost Innocence Project clients Kennedy Brewer and Levon Brooks a combined 30 years behind bars before they were cleared by DNA testing.
“The use of Michael West as an expert at any point in time was inexcusable,” the organization’s director, Tucker Carrington, says. “There was never any basis for his work to be considered valid as a forensic science. But using him in this case in 2001, after his work had been discredited, and after the FBI’s experts had reported that they could not see anything in that videotape, that’s really a new low.”
“Michael West was presenting bogus evidence,” Carrington says. “Prosecutors ought to be racing to identify and re-investigate cases where West was involved, not waiting for defense attorneys to discover them — much less defend his testimony or work in those cases.”