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Blood-Stain Analysis In 30-Year-Old Texas Murder Case Flawed, Says Commission

A well-known analyst called previous testimony "egregiously wrong."

By Ethan Harfenist

New findings by state forensic experts have indicated that the bloodstain pattern analysis that was instrumental in convicting a former high school principal in Texas of murdering his wife in 1985 was actually inaccurate.
According to a New York Times report, the Texas Forensic Science Commission challenged the conviction of Joe Bryan, a former educator who has now spent more than three decades behind bars. It has also called into question the testimony of an expert who testified in his case, calling his assertions "entirely wrong." The New York Times and ProPublica conducted a two-part investigation into Bryan's case back in May and examined the precision of blood-splatter analysis.
These new discoveries, released on Friday during the commission's quarterly meeting, provide previously unknown insights into Bryan's case. According to the Times, bloodstain-pattern analyst Celestina Rossi evaluated the testimony of Robert Thorman, a police detective and crucial witness in Bryan's case who underwent only 40 hours of blood-splatter analysis training.
"Thorman's testimony was egregiously wrong," Rossi said following the meeting, as quoted by the Times. "If any juror relied on any part of his testimony to render a verdict, Mr. Bryan deserves a new trial." Rossi underwent 60 hours of training about such analysis, and built on the Times and ProPublica's in-depth investigation.
Calls by Oxygen.com to Kathryn Adams, Texas Forensic Science Commission's coordinator, were not returned by press time.
Blood-stain pattern analysis has previously been in the spotlight due to its potentially biased nature. In a case highlighted by Netflix's "The Staircase," blood-splatter analyst Duane Deaver, who was employed by North Carolina's State Bureau of Investigation, provided testimony that blood stains found at the bottom of author Michael Peterson's staircase showed that Peterson's wife, Kathleen, was beaten to death. Deaver went on to say that blood found on the stairwell's walls, and on Michael and Kathleen's clothes, proved that Kathleen was killed in 2001 by Michael, who used a blunt object to carry out the deed.
Two years later, Peterson received life in prison without parole. Deaver's testimony was a major part of the conviction.
However, later it was discovered Deaver lied about his background and thus committed perjury during the 2003 trial. As a result, Peterson received a retrial.
But the jury is still out on the trustworthiness of blood=stain analysis. While some maintain its effectiveness, according to the Times, Bryan's case inspired the commission in Texas to not allow police officers with limited blood-splatter pattern analysis training to testify in the state.

[Credit: Getty]

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