What Would We Do Without Experts?

The case was cold for about a decade…

… until Sergeant Mike White, in Norwalk, began looking into the murder. White wondered if he could connect the bedsheets to what he believed might have been the murder weapon: a Craftsman breaker bar—a heavy tool with a long handle, used to unscrew tight bolts—that had been found in a car that James Parsons had once owned. White approached the Cuyahoga County coroner’s office, in Cleveland. The technicians there examined the bedsheets and the tool, which had no traces of blood on it, and said they could not conclusively rule out the breaker bar as the murder weapon or connect it to the crime.

White then brought the matter to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, where the case was assigned to a forensic scientist named G. Michele Yezzo, a bloodstain specialist. Yezzo proved to be more helpful. She believed she could make out a letter N, consistent with the appearance of the same letter in the word Craftsman on the breaker bar, imprinted on a bedsheet. She also believed that some stains on the victim’s nightgown—which are not easy to decipher—appeared to be similar in shape to the head area of the bar. She sprayed a chemical on the bedsheet and the nightgown to enhance the stains and raise any other impressions. As she watched, more detail emerged. She later testified that she was able to see “individualizing characteristics”—marks seemingly unique to that breaker bar—on the nightgown. She also testified that the letter S rose to the surface of the bedsheet—likewise consistent with the appearance of that letter in the word Craftsman. But Yezzo failed to photograph the newly visible image, and it faded. Moreover, the chemical process used to bring out the bloodstain markings—all of them, on both the bedsheet and the nightgown—made replication by the defense impossible. When asked, years later, why she had failed to photograph what she said she’d seen on the enhanced bedsheet, Yezzo replied, “This is one time that I didn’t manage to get it soon enough.” She added: “Operator error.”

12 Replies to “What Would We Do Without Experts?”

    1. Pull my finger?

      I find ironic how society has accepted laws broken in front of your face and yet it’s becoming normalized.
      Is ‘blackmail’ a crime?
      It certainly is used alot.
      Even Dr. Phil does it saying he’s a mandated rat to the cops should he find child abuse…
      So, this situation is ongoing for quite awhile until Dr.Phil interventions with threats to the parents.
      I see many situations when people being honest gets charges or ‘blackmailed’ into cooperation.

      Oh…too late…
      Pee yew.

  1. All I know is that if I am ever on a jury and a conviction relies primarily on the testimony of an RCMP officer the defendant is walking. RCMP always lie. And the bonus is by making this post I will never be on a jury.

    1. Being a bible believing Christian has stopped the jury invites too, they asked the last time. Being a right wing whitey helps too….

      1. I got pulled in for jury selection a few years ago. When the perp walked in to sit in the box I said to the guy next to me “he’s definitely guilty”, which resulted in uncontrollable giggles and heaving shoulders by the others sitting around me trying to hold it back.

        Can’t say anyone heard more than a few rows out, but needless to say I wasn’t called up.

  2. “More than half of those exonerated by post-conviction DNA testing had been wrongly convicted based on flawed forensic evidence.”


    Any defense attorney that doesn’t recite this in closing arguments on a case depending on forensics to convict is an idiot.

  3. Not using a tool in the manner and use for which it’s intended is a sure way for someone to get hurt.

    However, given the shape and weight distribution of a power bar, I don’t think the point of impact would fave been on the handle (the lettered part).

  4. To be absolutely fair, my understanding is that process she’s referring to is a one time deal. It can’t be redone, and as she stated apparently the images appear and then disappear quite quickly, which of course makes one wonder why the test wouldn’t be captured on video, from multiple cameras, knowing in advance that it’s ‘one and done’?
    Not like anyone of us has never had a lapse in judgement…

  5. And to think that Hollywood has elevated crime scene investigation to the status of a religion.
    The biggest flaw according to the Atlantic article is the close relationship between the forensics people and the cops/prosecution.
    As they believe they are part of a team, of course their work is going to contain bias. It’s absurd to believe otherwise.
    Scar, I agree with you. We had a case here about 20 years ago where the RCMP officer in charge of a murder investigation went so far over the line he should have spent years in jail.Instead he’s comfortably retired with a nice pension. The cops will lie until they can’t get away with it any longer.

  6. I’m sure that shows such as CSI have only contributed to the confounding of the average man with respect to how forensic science works.