Expert Article Library

Bite Mark Expert Testimony Successfully Challenged

Case Name: Ege v. Yukins (Click here for the full text of the case)

Court: United States Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit; on appeal from District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan at Bay City

Date: April 24, 2007

Expert: Bite Mark Expert. Dr. Alan Warnick

Issues: Was evidence provided by a bite mark expert improperly admitted at trial.

Summary of case: The defendant, Ege, was convicted of murder. Her conviction centered upon evidence provided by a bite mark expert. The defendant filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus arguing, amongst other things, that she was denied a fair trial because Dr. Warnick’s testimony was improperly admitted at trial. The district court granted her petition on the due process claim. The Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s decision, thereby agreeing that the expert’s testimony was improperly admitted.

Role of the expert: The expert testified that marks found on the victim’s cheek were bite marks consistent with the defendant’s dentition. Dr. Warnick also testified that there was a 3.5 million-to-1 chance of another person having made those marks.

Challenges to the Expert's testimony: The defendant challenged Dr. Warnick’s evidence on the basis that it was unsound. The defendant also claimed that Dr. Warnick had a record of unreliability. The Court of Appeals agreed that the statement of probabilities provided by Dr. Warnick was entirely without foundation, and affirmed the district court’s grant of the petition on the due process claim.

Summary prepared by R. Zapparoni.