Blood Will Tell

Investigating a Forensic Science

Bloodstain-pattern analysis, and the experts who specialize in it, have helped prosecutors secure convictions across the country. But how much science is really behind the interpretation of blood spatters?

Featured

Bloodstain Analysis Convinced a Jury She Stabbed Her 10-Year-Old Son. Now, Even Freedom Can’t Give Her Back Her Life.

Julie Rea was convicted of killing her son largely on the testimony of bloodstain-pattern analysts. She was later acquitted and exonerated, joining a growing community of Americans wrongly convicted with bad science.

How a Dubious Forensic Science Spread Like a Virus

From his basement in upstate New York, Herbert MacDonell launched modern bloodstain-pattern analysis, persuading judge after judge of its reliability. Then he trained hundreds of others. But what if they’re getting it wrong?

Influential Texas Commission Says Blood-Spatter Testimony in Joe Bryan’s Murder Case Was “Not Accurate or Scientifically Supported”

The findings of Texas Forensic Science Commission will make it harder to deny a new trial to Bryan, a high school principal convicted of murdering his wife. The case was the subject of an investigation by ProPublica and The New York Times Magazine.

Other Entries

Joe Bryan Denied Parole for Seventh Time

Though a forensic expert who testified against Bryan has admitted his conclusions were wrong, Bryan will remain behind bars.

Joe Bryan in His Own Words: On Being Convicted With Expert Testimony That Turned Out to Be Wrong

In a moving interview, Bryan, who has spent 31 years in a Texas prison for the 1985 murder of his wife, talks about his life behind bars and trying keep hope alive.

Judge in Joe Bryan Case Rejects Defense Pleas for New Trial

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.

Texas Panel Faults Lab Chemist in Bryan Case for “Overstated Findings” and Inadequate DNA Analysis

The Texas Forensic Science Commission called out a second prosecution expert for her work on the murder case of the former high school principal convicted of the 1985 murder of his wife.

Blood-Spatter Expert in Joe Bryan Case Says “My Conclusions Were Wrong”

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.

Joe Bryan’s Attorneys Ask For New Trial, Say Murder Conviction Built On Faulty Forensics

During a three-day hearing in Texas, a succession of witnesses criticized the bloodstain-pattern analysis and exposed other flaws in the prosecution of a former high school principal convicted of the 1985 murder of his wife.

Blood Will Tell, Part II

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.

Blood Will Tell, Part I

The murder of Mickey Bryan, a quiet fourth-grade teacher, stunned her small Texas town. Then her husband, a beloved high school principal, was charged with killing her. Did he do it, or had there been a terrible mistake?

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