Did dental examiner create the bite marks that put a man on death row?

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In November 2007, Reason magazine's Radley Balko published a long investigative story on Steven Hayne, a doctor who for the last 20 years has done the vast majority of Mississippi's forensic autopsies. Critics say Hayne and his sidekick, "bite mark expert" Michael West, cornered the market by doing ungodly numbers of autopsies, and by telling prosecutors what they wanted to hear — possibly putting innocent people in prison in the process.

Three months after the article ran, two men in Mississippi — Kennedy Brewer and Levon Brooks — were released from prison after DNA testing exonerated them for raping and killing the daughters of their girlfriends. Both convicted in the early 1990s, the two collectively served more than 30 years in prison. Tests pointed to a third man, who confessed to both crimes. Brooks and Brewer were both convicted based primarily on testimony from West and Hayne, who claimed to have found bite marks on the little girls that could only come from the accused.

Balko has now found another case from about the same time with remarkably similar facts. Only this time, there's an incredible, damning video of Hayne and West's "examination." Jimmie Duncan was accused of raping and killing his girlfriend's daughter, 23-month old Haley Oliveaux. Prosecutors brought her body to Hayne, who claimed to have seen bite marks no other doctor noticed. He then called in West, who did the exam depcited in the video. In the video, West takes a dental mold of Jimmie Duncan's teeth and pushes it into or scrapes it across Haley Oliveaux's body some 50 times.Other forensic experts say the video shows not only medical malpractice, but criminal evidence tampering.

West and Hayne have testified in thousands of cases in Mississippi and Louisiana. Jimmie Duncan was convicted of capital murder for the rape and murder of Haley Oliveaux. He is still on death row in Louisiana.

STRONG WARNING: The article contains extremely disturbing photos and a video excerpt of the "bite mark exam" on Haley Oliveaux.

Article w/ video and photos |

Original feature on Hayne |

Archive of Blako's investigation of Hayne and West