Monday, April 13, 2009

The Porcelain God: Victim or Suspect?

Wisconsin v. Plude, 2008 WI 58 (Wisc. 2008)

I'm not making this up folks.

Douglas Plude was convicted of first degree murder on the theory that he'd killed his wife Genell by drowning her in the water in the family commode after drugging her with Fioricet codeine, a medicine prescribed to migraine sufferers.

The Vilas County Attorney, Albert Moutsakis is recruiting people for a further round of testing to see if, in fact, a 5'8 inch 140 pound woman can be drowned in a toilet.

It seems that the state's expert witness Dr. Saami Shaibani, who was instrumental in producing the scientific information that led to the first conviction told a few....ahem....whoppers under oath concerning his credentials.

Dr. Shaibani had testified that the position the body was found in was physically impossible for an unconscious person to maintain. However, he'd testified that he was an associate professor at Temple University, and held a master's and doctorate in physics from Oxford. Turns out he was not a professor at Temple. And, he's got problems in other places.

The Wisconsin Supremes determined that in a trial as contentious and rife with conflicting expert witness testimony as Plude's was, a reasonable jury might well have had a reasonable doubt about Plude's guilt had they known that Shaibani had falsified his credentials.

Memo to potential experts: Don't pad your credentials.


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