There are a slew of scientific techniques that forensic experts use to solve crimes. But how reliable are they? We’re putting forensic evidence under the microscope. To help us crack the case, we talk to Assoc. Prof. Sibyl Bucheli, attorney Chris Fabricant, former crime lab director Barry Fisher, Dr. Itiel Dror, and Assoc. Prof. Patrick Buzzini.

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This episode has been produced by Wendy Zukerman, Shruti Ravindran, Diane Wu, Austin Mitchell and Heather Rogers. Our senior producer is Kaitlyn Sawrey.

Edited by Annie-Rose Strasser and Caitlin Kenney. Fact checking by Michelle Harris.

Sound design and music production by Matthew Boll, mixed by Martin Peralta and Bobby Lord. Music written by Bobby Lord.

Selected References

2009 National Academy of Sciences and 2016 President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology reports on forensic science

Overview of forensic entomology Amendt et al, “Forensic entomology,” Naturwissenschaften, 2004

Study modeling precision of dating time of death from flies Faris et al, “Forensic Entomology: Evaluating Uncertainty Associated With Postmortem Interval (PMI) Estimates With Ecological Models,” Journal of Medical Entomology 2016.

Review paper on bite mark analysis Clement et al, “Is current bite mark analysis a misnomer?”

Department of Justice review of Brandon Mayfield case

Context can change how fingerprints are read Dror et al, “Contextual information renders experts vulnerable to making erroneous identifications,” Forensic Science International, 2006.

Hair microscopy can lead to incorrect matches Houck et al, “Correlation of microscopic and mitochondrial DNA hair comparisons,” Journal of Forensic Science, 2002.

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