As we discussed in July, the Texas Forensic Science Commission, which investigates the misuse of forensic evidence and testimony, weighed in on this very case. After reviewing the analysis and testimony, the commission concluded that the evidence against Joe B. was “not accurate or scientifically supported” and “entirely wrong.“
Joe B.’s case has already led to reform. The detective in the case had only a single week’s training in bloodstain-pattern analysis before being assigned to a homicide. The Commission now says this type of analysis must be performed by a member of an accredited organization.
The blood evidence in the case was rather minimal. A flashlight with blood speckles on it was discovered in the trunk of Joe’s car. The detective opined that the speckles were in a “back spatter” pattern, indicating that the killer was holding the flashlight in one hand while shooting the gun with the other. The commission said this interpretation was “egregiously wrong.”
Since that ruling, Joe’s attorneys obtained a DNA test on the flashlight speckles. Several of them were not blood. Two stains were blood but yielded no DNA results. The profile of a stain on the flashlight’s handle excluded both Joe and his wife.
Several other pieces of evidence have been effectively challenged, as well. Perhaps most significant, new evidence appears to point to an alternative suspect. A now-deceased police officer from Joe’s hometown of Clifton is now thought to have murdered a 17-year-old high school student a mere four months before Joe’s wife was killed. An ex-wife says that he boasted of being with Joe’s wife on the night of her murder.
It’s also worth noting that Joe was attending a conference in Austin at the time of the murder.
Joe B. has been in prison for over 30 years and is now in frail health. Unfortunately, and despite the profound questions about the evidence against him, Joe still has to wait. The question of his new trial won’t be decided until at least Nov. 9, when both sides will present findings to a judge. The judge will then decide whether to grant the new trial.