Andrew H. Stevenson
When Experts Get it Wrong - The Ray Krone Story
One ordinary night in 1991 a young barmaid, Kim Ancona, was sexually assaulted and brutally murdered after closing time at a local lounge in Phoenix, Arizona. There was little physical evidence, no witnesses, no murder weapon found and no apparent motive. The only distinctive evidence in the case was a bite mark found on Kim's body. Ray Krone was an average citizen, a retired Air Force veteran and a postal worker who loved to play darts at the local bar where Kim Ancona worked. Other than his being a patron of the bar, the only other connection between the two was that Ray had given her a ride home a few weeks past.
Ray was interviewed by the police. He denied being involved in the murder and was able to present an alibi for the night of the murder. Further, shoe impressions found at the scene were not his. Unfortunately, two days after his interview with police, Krone was arrested and accused of murdering, kidnapping, and assaulting Kim based solely on bite marks that were left on the victim's body. Ray's only crime, misaligned teeth.
His trial lasted 6 days. At trial, the prosecuting attorney relied almost exclusively on the testimony of an "expert witness." The "expert witness" was a dentist from Las Vegas who testified that the bite marks on the victim were caused by Ray's teeth. Ray, who had been nicknamed by the media "Snaggletooth Killer" testified on his own behalf and vehemently denied being involved. The jury did not believe Ray; he was convicted and sentenced to death.
In 1995, Krone's conviction was overturned based on the fact that the prosecution withheld evidence. Krone was given a new trial in 1996. Once again, the same "expert" testimony on bite marks was presented by the same dentist, and once again Ray was convicted. However, this time he was sentenced to life in prison because the judge had "concerns" about the veracity of the bite-mark testimony.
Krone's family never gave up on him and in 2000 they hired a new attorney to pursue a review of saliva and blood samples collected during the original investigation. This time DNA testing (which was not readily available in 1993 due to low sample quantities) was done on the saliva and blood. The results showed that blood and saliva recovered from the body and bite marks did not come from Ray Krone. He was subsequently released from prison. Interestingly, the DNA was linked to Kenneth Phillips, who at the time of the murder lived less than 600 yards from the bar and was arrested only two weeks after the murder for breaking into a neighboring woman's home and threatening to kill her as he assaulted her.
Ray Krone spent 3,769 days in jail, two years and eight months of which was served on death row, primarily due to "expert testimony" which was clearly wrong.