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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 222167 Find in a Library
Title: Integrated Technique for the Analysis of Skin Bite Marks
Journal: Journal of Forensic Sciences  Volume:53  Issue:1  Dated:January 2008  Pages:194-198
Author(s): Herman Bernitz Ph.D.; Johanna H. Owen B.Sc.; Willie F.P. van Heerden Ph.D.; Tore Solheim Ph.D.
Date Published: January 2008
Page Count: 5
Type: Case Study
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper presents a case study from South Africa to demonstrate an integrated technique for the analysis of skin bite marks that is capable of withstanding vigorous cross-examination when bite-mark evidence is presented in court.
Abstract: The proposed analysis technique is presented in four stages: determination that the bite mark was made by a human, pattern association analysis, metric analysis and comparison with the population data, and illustration with a real case study. The pattern association of dental features in this case clearly showed the match between the tooth marks on the victim's skin and the suspect's dentition. The photographic images were enlarged so that the features could be clearly seen. All the teeth were present in both exhibits, showing similar tooth rotations, arch forms, and intercanine distances without any unexplained discrepancies. This pointed to a degree of similarity at stage two. Metric analysis, stage three, established an approximate numerical value that can be used in weighing the features according to the relevant population statistics. Small discrepancies in the numerical values will not affect the decisionmaking process. It is important to recognize that when comparing the measurements of the suspect's dentition with the tooth marks present on the victim's skin, an exact match will seldom be found. The population data used in this case study illustrate the technique, but are not representative of the Province in which the crime occurred, since only 300 bites were analyzed. The paper recommends that a conclusion of "absolute certainty" should never be made in skin bite-mark cases. In the current case, the expert could state with a "high degree of certainty" that the bite mark present on the victim's abdomen was inflicted by the suspect. 5 tables, 5 figures, and 18 references
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Dental analysis; Evidence; Investigative techniques; Suspect identification
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