The first three episodes of The Innocence Files focus on the reliability of bite mark evidence in criminal trials. Dr Michael West, a self-proclaimed forensic dentistry expert, features throughout the first three episodes, defending his work and testimony in cases where the defendant has been wrongfully convicted. Express.co.uk has everything you need to know about Dr Michael West.
What is High Life?
The Innocence Files features footage of Dr Michael West being interviewed about the criminal cases in which he had provided bite mark evidence.
Dr Michael West had testified in the separate cases of Levon Brooks and Kennedy Brewer, who were wrongfully convicted of murder and sexual battery.
West had analysed marks on both victims bodies, which he believed resembled bite marks.
After taking impressions of both Brooks and Brewer’s mouth, West concluded that the bite marks “indeed and without a doubt” matched the teeth of the accused.
He then testified for the prosecution at both of their trials and in both cases, the bite mark analysis was the only physical evidence in the case.
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After the convictions of Levon Brooks and Kennedy Brewer were overturned in 2008, following DNA evidence and a confession from the real attacker, Justin Albert Jonhson, Dr West’s practices were questioned by investigators.
Throughout the documentary series, West strongly defends his findings and bite mark evidence as a whole.
In the footage featured in the episode, three of West giving a legal deposition, West continues to defend his testimony and work.
However, when asked about specific cases he had worked on, he told investigators he could not remember any details.
West said: “Once you’ve seen one dead girl with bites on them you have seen them all.”
When asked if the case of the State of Mississippi versus Charles Gregory Davis was a “dead girl case”, West replied: “I don’t know.”
He is then asked by investigators if he was taking medication that would hinder his memory, to which he said yes.
Dr West continued: “Yes. High Life. Miller High Life. You can forget all sorts of stuff.”
Many viewers out of the US assumed High Life was a nickname for a type of medication, but this is not the case.
High Life is the name of an American beer, known as Miller High Life.
Rate Beer.com describes High Life as an “a classic American-style lager recognized for its consistently crisp, smooth taste and iconic clear-glass bottle.”
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The Innocence Files: Who is Doctor Michael West? Where is Dr West now? [INSIGHT]
Where is Dr West now?
Dr West is now retired and living in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
Speaking to Oxygen.com, West said: “I’m 67, overweight, diabetic and I think I’m going to die of boredom because of coronavirus.”
He added: “In the background I can hear my father yelling ‘Suck it up, buttercup, ain’t nobody shooting at you.’”
West also revealed his work over the years has had an effect on him.
He said: “When you are doing the work you have to do it as a biological specimen.
“The person laying on that table is a frog in a jar but over the years that frog becomes a little girl who was raped and killed and it wears on you.”
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He also revealed he would not like to be near another autopsy again unless it was a historical figure.
In the documentary, Dr West’s work was discredited by fellow forensic odontologist Dr Richard Souviron, who pointed out his models only focused on the upper parts of the mouth.
Since the early 2000’s the credibility of bite mark analysis has been vastly disputed.
Many guilty convictions West testified in have been overturned thanks to DNA evidence which disproved bite mark analysis.
According to The Innocence Project, West’s testimony contributed to the wrongful convictions of half a dozen people.
In 2011, in a deposition obtained by Clarion-Ledger, West said: “I no longer believe in the bite-mark analysis. I don’t think it should be used in court.
“I think you should use DNA. Throw bite marks out.”
However, The Innocence Files was filmed years later and in it, he appears to defend bite mark analysis strongly.
The Innocence Files is streaming on Netflix now
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