Eddie Lee Howard was twice sentenced to die based almost solely on bite mark evidence, and a forensic dentist’s testimony that there was “no doubt” Howard’s teeth matched bruises found on a murder victim’s body. After 26 years on Mississippi’s death row, Howard was exonerated in January, making him at least the 28th person in America to be freed after bite mark evidence was discredited by DNA.
In 2012, nearly 30 years after an FBI investigator testified that hairs found at a murder scene belonged to Santae A. Tribble—and that there was “one chance in 10 million” those strands could have come from someone else— Tribble’s conviction was overturned and DNA evidence revealed one of the hairs was actually from a dog. Anthony Ray Hinton was convicted of two murders based on an erroneous bullet match made through a forensic firearms analysis. By the time Hinton was freed from an Alabama prison in 2015, he had spent three decades on death row.
The Innocence Project finds “the misapplication of forensic science contributed to 52 percent of wrongful convictions” in the cases it has successfully tackled, while the National Registry of Exonerations has identified “false or misleading forensic evidence” as a “contributing factor in 24 percent of all wrongful convictions nationally.”