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HuffPo: Leigh Stubbs, Mississippi Woman, Serving 44-Year Sentence Despite Discredited Testimony


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Leigh Stubbs, Mississippi Woman, Serving 44-Year Sentence Despite Discredited Testimony

Prosecutors in the U.S. often decry what is sometimes called the "CSI Effect." Movies and TV crime dramas like the popular "CSI" franchise on CBS can fill jurors' heads with unrealistic expectations about forensic science. But there's also a flip side to the CSI Effect: Because jurors are ready to believe the fantastical feats preformed by the wondrous forensics computers they see on screen, an unscrupulous prosecutor armed with an expert willing to offer otherwise dubious forensics on the witness stand can cause a lot of damage.

Witness Michael West. In the early 1990s, West, a dentist in Hattiesburg, Miss., was one of country's most prolific forensic odontologists, or bite mark specialists. West claimed to have perfected a new method of identifying bite marks on human skin, saying he could then match them to the teeth of a criminal suspect. Conveniently, West often testified that only he could perform this new analysis, which he called the "West Phenomenon."

Over the years, West broadened his areas of claimed expertise, testifying in at least 10 states as a wound pattern expert, a trace metals expert, a gun shot residue expert, a gunshot reconstruction expert, a crime scene investigator, a blood spatter expert, a "tool mark" expert, a fingernail scratch expert and an expert in "liquid splash patterns." He also got himself elected coroner of Forrest County, Miss. Though West was discredited in a number of national media reports beginning in the mid-1990s, he continued to testify in Mississippi courtrooms until just a few years ago.

Mississippi prosecutors no longer use West as a witness, but state Attorney General Jim Hood continues to defend convictions won because of his testimony. And Mississippi's appeals courts continue to uphold them. There are still dozens of people still in prison thanks either to West's testimony or his forensics reports, and Mississippi officials don't seem particularly concerned about them. One of those people is Leigh Stubbs, now 10 years into a 44-year prison sentence.

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There was a thread on here a year or two ago that had a video of this dentist in action - blatantly manufacturing evidence. He had taken a plaster cast of a suspect's teeth, and was using that cast to create bite marks on the body of a child victim. That is mentioned on the second page of the Huff article.

Here is a link to that video: WARNING - it shows the lifeless body of a 23-month old child on an exam table. The accompanying article describes the debunking of this so called "expert."

http://reason.com/archives/2009/02/19/manufacturing-guilt/1

Beyond that blatant criminal act of manufacturing evidence, the techniques of this charlatan has been thoroughly discredited and, unfortunately, justice should require that those convicted based on his testimony should have their cases reviewed.

---------- Post added August-10th-2011 at 11:28 AM ----------

How was the testimony discredited?

Here's another example of how this "expert" West was exposed:

"Also in 2009, another video featuring West surfaced, this time the product of a sting operation orchestrated by a defense attorney. The attorney had his private investigator send West bite mark photos from a decade-old crime scene along with a dental mold of the private investigator's own teeth. The investigator also sent West a check, along with a letter explaining that he was working for the family of the victim of an unsolved murder. The dental mold, the letter said, was from the man the family believed committed the crime. West not only said he could match the investigator's own teeth to the crime scene photos, he sent back a video in which he meticulously went through his methodology."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/09/leigh-stubbs-michael-west-forensics-discredited-testimony_n_922219.html?page=2

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Lampton chose to bring in Michael West as a witness even though West's credibility problems were already well-known. West had previously claimed to be able to trace the bite marks in the bread of a half-eaten bologna sandwich to the prosecution's chief suspect; he had compared his own genius to the musical genius of Itzhak Perlman; and he once testified in court that his own error rate was merely "something less than my savior, Jesus Christ." West had been exposed in articles in both the American Bar Association Law Journal and the National Law Review, and he was suspended and later resigned from the American Board of Forensic Odontologists. But Lampton ignored West's history and called in his expertise in yet another criminal case.

In a routine he had by then repeated dozens of times with law enforcement officials across Mississippi and Louisiana, West claimed to find human bite marks on Williams that other doctors had overlooked. He then ordered dental impressions taken from Stubbs, Vance and two other suspects. But by the time the plaster impressions arrived, Williams' alleged wounds had faded. So West performed his analysis based on photographs he had taken of his findings days earlier. He would later testify that it was a "probability" that a bite mark he claimed to have found on William's thigh was made by Stubbs. (In a rare display of humility, West did concede that he wasn't "100 percent" certain of the match -- only that it was likely.)

MICHAEL WEST, 'VIDEO ENHANCEMENT EXPERT'

From there, the case against Leigh Stubbs only grew more bizarre. On the night of the alleged attack, the Comfort Inn had a security camera camera trained on its parking lot. Lampton sent the grainy VHS tape, which was taken after nightfall, to the FBI for analysis. The agency's report found nothing incriminating in the footage. It repeatedly points out that the quality of the recording is insufficient to tell for certain how many people are depicted in the video, much less determine their identities or what sort of clothing they're wearing. The report also makes no mention of anyone moving a "body."

Though he was obligated by law to do so, Lampton never turned that FBI report over to Stubbs' defense attorney. But he sent the video to Michael West, who, now donning his "video enhancement expert" cap, claimed he was able to enhance the video and capture still photos from those enhancements incriminating Stubbs and Vance for Williams' injuries.

The ability to "enhance" security camera footage beyond its resolution is a Hollywood-perpetuated myth so common that mocking it has become a running pop culture meme. Yet West testified in court that he could do exactly that. West and Lampton both knew that the FBI itself was unable to glean anything useful from the video, according to this correspondence, in which West references the FBI's examination of the tape. They kept that correspondence from the defense and the jury.

:doh:

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Recalling a sting that 60 Minutes once did, concerning private investigators and polygraphs.

They took the NYC yellow pages, picked a PI at random from the phone book.

They brought the PI in, and they told him that a million-dollar portable video camera had been stolen from the newsroom. (No such crime had occurred.) There were like 30 employees who had access to the room, 24 hours. They wanted him to polygraph the employees, to see if he could figure out who toom the camera.

The PI examined every employee in the newsroom, and didn't find any evidence that any employees were lying.

Then they picked a different PI out of the phone book. This one, when they hired him, they told the PI that "frankly, we suspect it's Bob."

This PI ran a polygraph on every employee, and lo and behold, announced that Bob was showing signs of lying about the "crime".

60 Minutes then brought in every single PI in the New York Yellow Pages who used polygraph.

And every single one of them concluded that <whichever employee they were told to suspect> was lying about the crime.

----------

I'm also remembering a scene in John Grisham's A Time to Kill. (Some white boys in a small southern town torture and rape a nine year old black girl. I think to death. Later, when it seems that the accused are going to get off without being convicted, the girl's father shows up at the courthouse with an M-16, and kills both of them.)

Grisham's lawyer is trying to get the father an insanity plea. The prosecution summons as their expert witness, the head of the state's mental hospital, who testifies that the accused was clearly fully and completely sane when he committed the crime.

The defense cross-examination points out that the accused is being prosecuted by the State of (Mississippi?), that the prosecutor is an employee of the State, and that the doctor is also an employee of the state. The defense observes that the doctor is a favorite witness for prosecutors, who are trying to prevent defendants from claiming insanity. Defense asks the Doctor how many itmes he's been called as an expert for various prosecutors. (Doc says he doesn't know). Defense says that they've gone through various records, and as near as they can tell, the doctor has testified for the prosecution in 72 insanity-defense trials.

And in all 72 cases, the doctor has testified that the defendant was clearly, beyond question, completely same. Every single time. The doctor has never in his career seen an accused man who was insane.

Defense then observes that, if the jury decides to find an accused man insane, then that non-convicted man gets sent to the hospital which the doctor runs. That the more patients the hospital has, and the longer it keep patients, the more money the hospital gets. That once someone gets sent to the mental hospital, then it becomes the doctor's job to decide whether the patient can safely be released into society.

And defense points out that, in the 72 cases where the doctor testified in court that the patient was clearly sane, that in 29 of those cases, the jury disagreed with the doctor's opinion, and found the accused insane, anyway.

And that in every single one of those cases, the Doctor has then announced that in his professional medical opinion, that every single patient is clearly dangerously insane, and cannot possibly be released nuder any circumstances.

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I recently saw a PBS Frontline episode on Shaken Baby Syndrome and how many people over the years have been possibly wrongly convicted because of ****ty Medical Examiners and their misleading and incorrect testimony.

It said that Medical Examiners basically have no licenses. No oversight. No standards.

Terrifying.

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West should be behind bars. He sounds like the poster boy for the "Dark Triad" in psychology (narcissism, machiavellianism, and psychopathy), especially considering we're talking about him being integral to putting people away for life or on death row; he wasn't making stuff up about someone stealing candy from a store to cover for himself. Pretty obvious that he has no conscience or sense of guilt. Its stunning how long he was able to continue his sales pitch even after being refuted or exposed numerous times. It is also pretty disgusting that the prosecutors who used him seemed to know perfectly well about his "iffy" credentials and now basically don't even hide it.

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Knowing Yusuf, it is. He's not NavyDave :)

Thanks Bud. It's nice to be known....well, sorta. It kind of makes my efforts at sarcasm and other fun stuff difficult to pull off sometimes. :)

Just my sarcastic commentary on the victim's rights sentiment that has gone a little too far resulting in some states allowing the innocent to rot in jail rather than revisit a case to correct a miscarriage of justice.

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I just want to go on record that there's plenty of decent, honest, fair, and educated people in Mississippi lest that start to become questioned in the forum. :)

I bet there are at least a couple thousand!

:evilg:

badbadbadbadbadbadbadbadbadbadbadbad Jumbo

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http://www.innocenceproject.org/Content/Two_Innocent_Men_Cleared_Today_in_Separate_Murder_Cases_in_Mississippi_15_Years_after_Wrongful_Convictions.php

(NOXUBEE COUNTY, MS; February 15, 2008) – Two men who were wrongfully convicted of separate child murders in Noxubee County, Mississippi, were cleared in the crimes at a hearing this morning based on evidence proving their innocence. Kennedy Brewer and Levon Brooks, who are represented by the Innocence Project, have maintained their innocence for 15 years and were joined by more than 100 of their relatives at this morning’s hearing....

The forensic analysis and testimony in both trials was deeply flawed and further illustrates the corruption that led to the two wrongful convictions, the Innocence Project said. Dr. Michael West, a Mississippi dentist who has testified for the prosecution in cases in nine states, claimed that cuts on the victims’ bodies were human bite marks caused by only the two top teeth; in each case, he testified with certainty that Brewer and Brooks were the sources of the alleged bite marks. By the time of Brewer’s trial, West had already been widely discredited; he was the first member ever suspended by the American Board of Forensic Odontology. Regardless, prosecutors continued to use West as an expert for years and courts allowed his testimony.
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Actually, the thing that gets to me in all of these "wrongful conviction" threads, in most cases, isn't the convictions. I know that nothing's perfect. And there are going to be cases where somebody really, really, really, looks guilty, but isn't.

(My opinion is that it doesn't happen nearly as often as some people might think. But the number isn't zero, either.)

No, what bothers me is the cases where, after the holes in the prosecution are glaringly obvious to anybody with half a brain, the prosecutors who still fight to put/keep people in jail, anyway.

DNA evidence proves that the guy on death row didn't rape that woman. DA fights to suppress the evidence/deny a trial.

Mistakes I can understand. It's the "I want this person in jail, whether he's innocent or not" I have a serious problem with.

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Larry, if you're a Grisham fan, read "The Innocent Man"... it's a nonfiction work by Grisham that will make your blood run cold.

What many people don't realize about our judicial system is that it's often less about justice, and more about "winning". The cop is under intense pressure to deliver a suspect. Their pride is on the line. Can they tie this person to the scene? Can they get a confession? This is their starting point. It's not "did this person do it?" They need to get it wrapped up and on to the next one. Basic human nature, really.

Same thing for prosecutors. They decide to bring a case to trial, it immediately becomes about winning, not justice. Again, basic human nature.

I decided a long time ago that, God forbid, should I ever be even suspected of a crime, no matter how rock-solid my alibi was or how sure in my heart I was that I didn't do it... I AM NOT TALKING TO THE POLICE. Just not going to happen. I'm aware of way too many horror stories there.

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Larry, if you're a Grisham fan, read "The Innocent Man"... it's a nonfiction work by Grisham that will make your blood run cold.

What many people don't realize about our judicial system is that it's often less about justice, and more about "winning". The cop is under intense pressure to deliver a suspect. Their pride is on the line. Can they tie this person to the scene? Can they get a confession? This is their starting point. It's not "did this person do it?" They need to get it wrapped up and on to the next one. Basic human nature, really.

Same thing for prosecutors. They decide to bring a case to trial, it immediately becomes about winning, not justice. Again, basic human nature.

I decided a long time ago that, God forbid, should I ever be even suspected of a crime, no matter how rock-solid my alibi was or how sure in my heart I was that I didn't do it... I AM NOT TALKING TO THE POLICE. Just not going to happen. I'm aware of way too many horror stories there.

It's going to get worse.

Clarence Thomas basically just gave a get out of jail free card to prosecutors who withhold exculpatory evidence.

http://www.slate.com/id/2290036/

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Actually, I often fond myself wondering about something you've pointed out, here.

Should the cops be on the prosecution's "side"?

I mean, I can kind of understand the prosecutor being partisan, so to speak. After all, we demand that the defense attorney be partisan. (Although I keep getting back to the prosecution referring to itself as "for the people, Your Honor".)

But shouldn't the cops be neutral, in this fight? Go find out the facts, report the facts, and let the partisans argue about the facts?

There's a scene in My Cousin Vinny. When Joe Peschi has the light bulb go off, and he realizes what he hasn't noticed, before, and he "cracks the case". He goes to the sheriff, and he asks him to run this query. And the sheriff's response is "that's not my job".

And my thought is "What? You're the cops. Not the DA'a private investigators."

----------

Now, is it possible for us to get to Larry's Fantasy World? I don't know.

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I decided a long time ago that, God forbid, should I ever be even suspected of a crime, no matter how rock-solid my alibi was or how sure in my heart I was that I didn't do it... I AM NOT TALKING TO THE POLICE. Just not going to happen. I'm aware of way too many horror stories there.

I should have clarified what I WILL do. I will immediately employ my legal Team:

Predicto

DJTJ

Tulane Skins Fan

Madison Redskin

Lombardi

Now I realize Lombardi isn't a lawyer, but he did go to law school. He will be expected to be in court to heckle the judge and place whoopee cushions underneath the prosecutors chair.

I think my first words to the cops will be "do you realize I post on ES? Do you have any idea how many lawyers I know? Kiss your ass goodbye, copper!"

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I think my first words to the cops will be "do you realize I post on ES? Do you have any idea how many lawyers I know? Kiss your ass goodbye, copper!"

Tell 'em you're a mod.

"Do you realize who I am? I can ban you for a week! Give you a funny avatar. NNT you."

----------

Remembering, long ago. I'm sitting in a movie theater, waiting for the movie to start. And in addition to the trailers for other movies, the theater has a clip about "turn off your cell phones, and please use the trash cans, and no smoking, and all of that."

But in this theater, the short clip with The Rules features Don Rickles as The Evil Moviegoer who breaks all the rules.

And the last scene in the skit, as the ushers are escorting Rickles out of the theater is "Do you know who I am? I know Sinatra!"

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I should have clarified what I WILL do. I will immediately employ my legal Team:

Predicto

DJTJ

Tulane Skins Fan

Madison Redskin

Lombardi

That's not exactly a legal dream team. Predicto is some kind of legal monk; he would defend you by citing In Re Lord Muldoon's pig from the 15th century. TSF is an ambulance chaser; he would wait until the police killed you in jail and then represent your family. I could figure out what the cost of your hospital bill should be between the beating and your death.

Your best bet is probably NavyDave.

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That's not exactly a legal dream team. Predicto is some kind of legal monk; he would defend you by citing In Re Lord Muldoon's pig from the 15th century. TSF is an ambulance chaser; he would wait until the police killed you in jail and then represent your family. I could figure out what the cost of your hospital bill should be between the beating and your death.

Your best bet is probably NavyDave.

That's the beauty of it you see. 5 misfits coming together to create a legal superteam. I will be retaining the movie rights

---------- Post added August-11th-2011 at 10:46 AM ----------

Scene 5' date=' Take 1:

Predicto: "I'd like to help you in your defense, but I'm content where I am."

zoony: "This is your chance to do something great though! A man once said, all great things happen because, um, people did them. you know. That man was George Zipp"

Predicto: "Will I have to leave San Francisco?"

zoony: "Yes, but I've set up a special room for you to sleep in. It has a panorama of the SF Skyline on the wall, 5 loaves of sourdough, and LKB will be wearing a gay biker costume. You'll feel right at home"

Predicto: "I'm just not sure..."

zoony: "did I mention everyone thought your Lord Muldoon Pig Defense was brilliant?"

Predicto: [cue music, tear forming in eye'] I'll do it!

____________________________________

I see this being similar to Oceans 11, though a lot less good looking and charismatic.

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That's the beauty of it you see. 5 misfits coming together to create a legal superteam. I will be retaining the movie rights

---------- Post added August-11th-2011 at 10:46 AM ----------

Scene 5, Take 1:

Predicto: "I'd like to help you in your defense, but I'm content where I am."

zoony: "This is your chance to do something great though! A man once said, all great things happen because, um, people did them. you know. That man was George Zipp"

Predicto: "Will I have to leave San Francisco?"

zoony: "Yes, but I've set up a special room for you to sleep in. It has a panorama of the SF Skyline on the wall, 5 loaves of sourdough, and LKB will be wearing a gay biker costume. You'll feel right at home"

Predicto: "I'm just not sure..."

zoony: "did I mention everyone thought your Lord Muldoon Pig Defense was brilliant?"

Predicto: [cue music, tear forming in eye] I'll do it!

____________________________________

I see this being similar to Oceans 11, though a lot less good looking and charismatic.

I think that scene will be much longer in the deleted scenes on the Blue-Ray.

Zoony: I need you. I've been charged with a muder I did not commit.

Predicto: Where do I need to go?

Zoony: Alabama

Predictio: What are the restaurants like? Did you know that San Francisco has the greatest restaurant scene in the world?

Zoony: It's quite good. Anthony Bourdain likes this one BBQ place. He's awesome. Did I mention I killed a man? Except I didn't.

Predicto: You would not think it, but San Franciso has wonderful BBQ restaurants. The secret ingredient in the sauce is Merlot from the Valley.

Zoony: Anthony Bourdain does not like the valley. Thinks they are all queer there. By the way, the person I did not kill was fat and worked at Wal Mart.

Predicto: San Francisco does not allow Wal Marts. Wash Cloths cost $15 here. As God (who is also not allowed in San Francisco) intended.

And scene

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