Steven Chaney pictured at his home in Texas, where he was wrongfully convicted of murder and exonerated in 2019 ending his more than 30-year ordeal.
Steven’s wrongful conviction has been a landmark case in the Innocence Project’s ongoing strategy to prevent the use of bite mark evidence in the courts. Steven was convicted of the murder of a friend based largely on testimony of two forensic dentists “matching” Chaney to a supposed bite mark on the victim. There is no scientific support for claims that a suspect can be identified from an injury on a victim’s skin, and bite mark analysis has been rejected by every scientific organization that has considered the discipline. Despite numerous alibi witnesses that validated his whereabouts at the time of the crime, Steven was sentenced to life in prison based on scientifically indefensible testimony.
Steven was wrongfully imprisoned for 28 years before being released in October 2015 after a re-investigation by the Innocence Project and the Dallas District Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit. As a result of the Innocence Project’s advocacy based on his case, the Texas Forensic Science Commission conducted an exhaustive six-month investigation of the scientific basis of bite mark evidence and eventually recommended the nation's first moratorium on the use of the technique in the courtroom. In addition, the high court of Texas found Steven "actually innocent", also a major win.
Since 1989, over 360 people in the United States have been exonerated by DNA testing, including 38 who pleaded guilty to crimes they did not commit and 21 who served time on death row. The Innocence Project provided direct representation or critical assistance in 180 of these cases.
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Photo credit-Ron Jenkins