A University of Washington scientist hopes his “brain fingerprinting” technique will save the life of an Oklahoma death-row inmate he believes is innocent, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports.
Larry Farwell, a Harvard-trained neuroscientist who works out of a small office in the Washington Technology Center on the University of Washington campus, hopes to use the case of Jimmy Ray Slaughter to convince law enforcement officials and the courts that the technique is scientifically sound and accurate.
Farwell believes that Slaughter’s case could be a key test of legal acceptance of the technique. An appeal of Slaughter’s case is expected to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, perhaps as early as this week, said Robert Jackson, an Oklahoma defense lawyer representing Slaughter.
Slaughter, who was convicted in the 1994 brutal murders of his 11- month-old daughter and her mother, is unlikely to prevail in his case before the nation’s highest court, Jackson said.
But he hopes that new evidence, including the results from Farwell’s innovative and controversial new forensic technology, will at least open the door to a new argument before the state Court of Appeals.
“The technique was ruled admissible by an Iowa court,” Jackson said. “We’re running out of options and time. We’re hoping the brain fingerprinting will at least get the appeals court to stay the execution.”
Farwell said his brain-testing technique, done on Slaughter last month, indicates that the man is almost certainly innocent of both murders.
“It’s very clear that he does not know some of the most salient features of the crime,” Farwell said. “We have 99 percent statistical confidence in our results, and Mr. Slaughter just did not know some of the things that the perpetrator of this crime would have known.”
The device works by having sensors track electrical waves in the brain in reaction to selected words and images.