Pulitzer for Balko?

February 23, 2009 – 7:35 pm by John

Some commenters to this Radley Balko post suggested he deserves a nomination for the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting. I think that would be fantastic. I have no idea what it takes to be nominated or to win a Pulitzer, but as far as I can tell he ought to win it.

Radley Balko has exposed and railed against dozens and dozens of crimes committed by Dr. Steven Hayne, a Mississippi-state certified forensic pathologist whose testimonies in civil and criminal cases have helped put literally thousands of people in prison, some of them for life. The culmination (so far) of his investigations of Hayne and his colleague Dr. Michael West is this story in Reason magazine. Quoting from the summary in his blag post:


Several months ago, I was able to obtain a pretty shocking video of one of Dr. Michael West’s infamous post-mortem “bite mark examinations.” This particular exam was performed on a 23-month-old Louisiana girl named Haley Oliveaux. As with most cases, Dr. Steven Hayne performed the initial examination on Oliveaux, claimed to have seen bite marks no other doctors saw, then called in West to perform his quackery bite mark analysis. West claimed to have traced the bite marks to Jimmie Duncan, the boyfriend of Oliveaux’s mother, and the man police suspected of murdering the girl. Duncan was convicted of capital murder, and has spent the last 10 years on death row.

The smoking gun video damns West and Hayne in two ways. First, as it opens, West is performing his initial examination. The video clearly shows that when the body of Haley Oliveaux was handed over to West and Hayne, her face was free of any abrasions or bite marks. Her cheek is clean.

The second portion of the video, taken the following day, then shows a striking abrasion. That abrasion could only have been inflicted by someone in Hayne’s office. The video also shows that Hayne must have been lying when he testified at trial that he found bite marks on the Oliveaux’s cheek, then called West in to do an analysis. The first portion of the video, taken after Hayne’s initial exam, shows no such bite marks.

The more obvious thing the video shows is Michael West repeatedly jamming, scraping, and pushing a mold of Jimmie Duncan’s teeth into Haley Oliveaux’s body, actions experts to whom I’ve shown the video say amount to criminal evidence tampering. The excerpt posted at Reason is only 30 seconds long. But the full video spans 24 minutes, during which West uses the mold to desecrate Oliveaux’s body at least 50 times.

The results of West’s “analysis” were then used to help convict Jimmie Duncan of raping and murdering Haley Oliveaux.

That is truly sickening and horrifying. It is difficult to imagine such evil taking place outside of Josef Mengele’s lab or a Stalinist torture chamber. As I already commented after Balko’s post, people like Steven Hayne and Michael West belong in the Special Hell—a level of hell reserved for child molesters and people who talk at the theater.

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  1. 3 Responses to “Pulitzer for Balko?”

  2. There you go again. I thought this headline said Pulitzer for Blago...

    btw, I like Reason Mag.

    By foutsc on Feb 23, 2009

  3. I totally thought it said Pulitzer for Blago too!

    By Kel on Feb 24, 2009

  4. Mwahaha, then my plan worked to perfection.

    By John on Feb 25, 2009

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