Tuesday, November 20, 2007

"It's worthless as a forensic tool."

For 40 years, the FBI used a "forensic" technique which has now been discredited as completely worthless.

Evidence of Injustice:
Aside from eyewitness testimony, some of the most believable evidence presented in criminal cases in the United States comes from the FBI crime laboratory in Quantico, Va. Part of its job is to test and analyze everything from ballistics to DNA for state and local prosecutors around the country, introducing scientific credibility to often murky cases.

But a six-month investigation by 60 Minutes and The Washington Post shows that there are hundreds of defendants imprisoned around the country who were convicted with the help of a now discredited forensic tool, and that the FBI never notified them, their lawyers, or the courts, that the their cases may have been affected by faulty testimony.

The science, called bullet lead analysis, was used by the FBI for 40 years in thousands of cases, and some of the people it helped put in jail may be innocent.


For years, the FBI believed that lead in bullets had unique chemical signatures, and that by breaking them down and analyzing them, it was possible to match bullets, not only to a single batch of ammunition coming out of a factory, but to a single box of bullets. And that is what the FBI did in the case of Lee Wayne Hunt, tying a bullet fragment found where the murders took place to a box of bullets the prosecutors linked to Hunt.
Emphasis mine. And this is pure fantasy.

It's a long article, but worth reading the whole thing.

Via The Real Gun Guys.


  1. Any experienced bullet caster would know the alloy is unlikely to remain exactly the same through one pot, much less multiple pots. And expecting a randomized sample of bullets loaded commercially to remain the same through one box is pure fantasy. I knew that the first time I heard of this "technique", it reflects poorly on the "scientists" at the FBI that they thought otherwise.

  2. I had never heard of it before yesterday, but it seems pretty obviously bogus to me.