At least 24 men convicted or charged with murder or rape based on bite marks on the flesh of victims have been exonerated since 2000, many after spending more than a decade in prison, reports the Associated Press. But a judge’s ruling later this month in New York could help end the practice for good. A small, mostly ungoverned group of dentists carry out bite mark analysis and their findings are often key evidence in prosecutions, even though there is no scientific proof that teeth can be matched definitively to a bite into human skin.
The AP reviewed records to compile the most comprehensive count to date of those exonerated after being convicted or charged based on bite mark evidence. Two court cases this month are bringing to issue to the forefront. One involves a 63-year-old California man who is serving a life term for killing his wife, even though the forensic dentist who testified against him has reversed his opinion. In the second, a New York City judge overseeing a murder case is expected to decide whether bite mark analysis can be admitted as evidence, a ruling critics say could kick it out of courtrooms for good.