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Abstract

The admission of expert testimony identifying an assailant by his bite marks on the victim is an issue on which few courts have ruled. The issue first was addressed by the North Carolina courts in State v. Temple. The North Carolina Supreme Court ruled expert testimony on bite marks was "admissible as an instrumentality which aids justice in the ascertainment of the truth." The Court refused to accept the defendant's contention that the experts' testimony should have been excluded because it was based on the results of a test not scientifically proven for reliability. A unanimous Court found the expert testimony was based on established scientific techniques of dentistry and photography applied to solve the novel problem of identifying bite marks on a murder victim. These scientific techniques belong to the field of forensic odontology. Forensic odontology seeks to relate and apply dental facts to legal problems. In a bite mark identification problem, the suspect's dentition, the kind, number and arrangement of teeth, is compared with bite marks found on the victim to determine if the suspect's teeth made the marks.

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