Netflix’s The Innocence Files tackles pivotal detail in infamous Ted Bundy caseApril 26, 2020
The latest true crime series on Netflix has shed new light on an infamous Ted Bundy case.
The Innocence Files is a nine-part documentary series that follows some haunting cases that show damaging miscarriages of justice.
Following non-profit organisation The Innocence Project and organisations within the Innocence Network, the show looks at supposedly closed cases and investigations that lead to the overturning of wrongful convictions.
One case that does come up in discussion, however, is one where there is very little doubt that the culprit is guilty.
The notorious serial killer Ted Bundy, who is infamous for the brutal assaults and murders of numerous women, is the criminal in question, but the show tackles how his trial changed prosecution procedures years later.
One of the cases concerning Bundy was the Chi Omega murders at Florida State University, where the evil Bundy murdered Margaret Bowman and Lisa Levy in their sorority house.
Bundy’s teeth impressions on their bodies were later used as evidence against him in court.
The man responsible for this forensic evidence at the trial was Richard Souviron, who appears in The Innocence Files to discuss his work and the impact of its use in the criminal justice system.
Following the use of bite-mark analysis in evidence against Bundy, this type of science became commonplace in prosecution cases in the US.
However, the validity of the science has since been massively called into question.
According to the New York Times, the American Board of Forensic Odontology found that there was a 63% rate of false identification when using the technique, as shown in a 1999 study.
A 2009 report by the National Academy of Sciences went on to criticise the use of a number of methods of forensice science.
It reads: “The law’s greatest dilemma in its heavy reliance on forensic evidence concerns the question of whether — and to what extent — there is science in any given forensic science discipline.”
After further studies continuing to discredit the science, this led to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology to say that analysis of bite-marks had no validity in 2016.
Despite this, it has still been used in a number of criminal cases since.
The Netflix series sees The Innocence Project unpick how multiple types of forensic evidence are open to interpretation and are used to reflect a desired narrative.
Another leading figure of forensic dentistry is Dr Michael West, who appears in The Innocence Files and defends his use of the science to aid in convictions.
However, The Innocence Project has slammed its use and cites how Dr. West had contributed to the wrongful convictions of at least six people- including two cases that are spotlighted in the series itself.
According to ProPublica, M. Chris Fabricant, director of strategic litigation at the Innocence Project in New York City, said: “Forensic science should be treated like any other consumer product, before it’s allowed to be used on human beings, it should be scientifically tested and clinically demonstrated to be reliable, just like toothpaste.
“But as long as courts continue to admit forensic evidence proffered by prosecutors, and prosecutors continue to win convictions using it, there is no incentive to change.”
So, does this mean that if the science has now been disregarded then if Bundy was tried today he would have got off scot-free?
With other advances in forensic and DNA evidence this is unlikely, especially considering his other crimes.
Yet, it will make many question just how much we rely on certain types of forensic science to reach verdicts in convictions and shows how their validity and reliability must always be reviewed to avoid the miscarriages of justice shown in The Innocence Files.