University of the Pacific

Murder conviction reversed in 23-year-old case that turned on a bite mark

Murder conviction reversed in 23-year-old case that turned on a bite mark

William Richards was the obvious suspect in the murder of his wife: Pamela was planning to leave him for another man, her killer did not rape her or steal anything, and Richards had no airtight alibi.

After three trials — the first two juries hung — Richards was finally convicted of murdering Pamela.   A prosecution expert at the third trial — but not at the first two — testified that a crescent-shaped mark on Pamela’s hand came from a bite that matched the unusual pattern of Richards’ bottom teeth.

The dental expert later said he had been wrong, but the California Supreme Court decided 4-3 in 2012 to uphold...

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