Wrongfully convicted? Comanche County hearing seeks to debunk ‘expert testimony’ in 1985 murder case


COMANCHE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – A man convicted of his wife’s murder more than 30 years ago could have a chance at exoneration if a 3-day hearing in Comanche County sheds doubt on expert testimony heard during his original trial. 

Former high school principal Joe Bryan, now 77, has maintained his innocence since he was convicted in 1985 and again during a re-trial in 1989. His convictions rest largely on a “bloodstain-pattern analysis” – a scientific practice that has proven unreliable, according to a joint report from ProPublica and the New York Times

During the Comanche County hearing, which began Monday, Bryan’s defense attorney’s are seeking to debunk expert testimony that relied on this “bloodstain-pattern analysis” and other evidence that could be rendered invalid due to modern forensic science. 

A new forensic expert took the stand Monday morning and testified that she doesn’t believe the original scientific expert gave valid testimony because he only had 40 hours of training and presented some questionable evidence during the original trials, such as saying blood found at the scene was definitively human.

The new expert argues the blood could be animal blood and also argues that spatter pattern on a flashlight tied to the crime scene goes against the original expert’s claims that Bryan was holding the flashlight while he shot and killed his wife Mickey Bryan in their hometown of Clifton, Texas.

The hearing is expected to continue through Wednesday as additional witnesses are called to the stand to pick apart the original forensic testimony – testimony Bryan’s defense team says was taken as truth simply because it came from an ‘expert’. 

KTAB and KRBC will provide updates from court throughout the week.

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