Photo credit: Joe Bryan in the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville. (Katie Campbell/ProPublica)
Texas’ highest criminal court will now decide the fate of Bryan, a former high school principal who has been in prison for 31 years for the murder of his wife, Mickey. A forensic expert who testified against him has admitted his conclusions in the case were wrong. by Pamela Colloff
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An influential state commission issued a highly critical assessment on Friday of a second key player in the murder conviction of Joe Bryan, saying a Texas Department of Public Safety crime lab chemist had “overstated findings, exceeded her expertise and engaged in speculation” when she testified in 1989.
In a Tuesday evidentiary hearing in a cold case murder investigation, the defense focused on the professional credibility and integrity of a former Delaware State Police forensic firearms examiner facing an unrelated trial next month for allegedly falsifying his time sheets in 2016 and 2017.
Police departments have been scrambling to keep up with all the shootings around the Puget Sound area over the past week. Some departments may send evidence left behind by the shooters to the Washington State Patrol crime lab - evidence that's almost as valuable as a fingerprint.
The expert whose testimony was key to Bryan’s conviction for his wife’s 1985 murder says he now believes that some of his techniques were incorrect. His admission comes as a judge considers whether Bryan, whose case was the subject of a ProPublica and New York Times Magazine investigation, should get a new trial.
An influential state commission said the blood-spatter analysis used to convict a former Texas high school principal of murdering his wife in 1985 was “not accurate or scientifically supported” and the expert who testified was “entirely wrong.”
Joe Bryan has spent the past three decades in prison for the murder of his wife, a crime he claims he didn’t commit. His conviction rested largely on ‘bloodstain-pattern analysis’ — a technique still in use throughout the criminal-justice system, despite concerns about its reliability. Should this type of forensic science remain in the courtroom?
When Mickey Bryan, a fourth-grade teacher, was murdered one night in 1985, her small-town Texas neighbors were shocked. When her husband, Joe, the beloved high school principal, was charged with murder, they were stunned. Could he possibly have done it, they wondered, or had there been a terrible mistake? Is Joe Bryan an innocent man, wrongfully imprisoned for the past 30 years on the basis of faulty forensic science?