In this article more will be explained about the case of W.T. Montgomery.
William Montgomery was convicted of killing Ms. Ogle, 20, as part of a Toledo robbery on March 8, 1986, and then returning to kill her roommate, Cynthia Tincher, 19, because she could have placed Montgomery and his convicted accomplice, Grover Heard, with Ms. Ogle that night. Montgomery was sentenced to death for Ms. Ogle’s murder and is scheduled to die by lethal injection on April 11, 2018. He is serving a separate life sentence for Ms. Tincher’s murder.
There is a certain amount of doubt in this case. The experts at Independent Forensic Services do “truth finding”. We are hired by both the prosecution and defense and make it clear from the start that what we do is to scientifically test the hypotheses from both parties and determine which hypothesis is supported by the evidence, regardless of who proposed the hypothesis. To see this case in perspective more information is needed than what is published by the newspapers.
Background of the case
The hypothesis of the prosecution is that these girls were killed by the same perpetrator shortly after one another on March 8, 1986. Victim Tincher was found on March 8, 1986, in her car along a road. Victim Ogle was found four days later in a wooded area. A proper investigation into the time of death of these victims has never been performed and a forensic medical report was never written. My wife Selma Eikelenboom-Schieveld conducted an investigation into the time of death of the victim Debra Ogle. This investigation revealed that is was much more likely that Debra Ogle was killed on a later date than the victim Tincher. This discredits the theory of the prosecution. But there is more .
Review of the case
In this case there are factors which should cause serious concern about the guilt of W.T. Montgomery.
- This case was tried in 1986. Forensic science was not very sophisticated compared to 2018. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) reviewed a number of fields in forensic in their report: “strengthening forensic science in the united states: a path forward”. “the quality of forensic practice in most disciplines varies greatly because of the absence of adequate training and continuing education, rigorous mandatory certification and accreditation programs, adherence to robust performance standards, and effective oversight. These shortcomings obviously pose a continuing and serious threat to the quality and credibility of forensic science practice.” This is certainly true for all investigations performed in 1986 on the gun, exhibit 45, in this case.
- The body of Debra Ogle was found four days after Tincher’s. In the scenario of the prosecution Ogle was killed first. Which would mean that she was dead for four days when she was found. Warming up the body of Debra Ogle will have accelerated the decomposition and the postmortem indicators, like rigor and livor.
- The body of Debra Ogle was discovered face down. She was then moved to her left side. She was then moved to her back. Lividity shifted accordingly. This proofs that not all the lividity was fixed at the moment of discovery of the body. The finding of non-fixed lividity does not support the hypotheses that the victim died on March 8, 1986. The finding of non-fixed lividity puts the time since death somewhere between 12 hours to a maximum of 36 hours prior discovery of the body.
- There is no sign of animal activity, neither from insects nor from animals like rodents. Especially the area of injuries would have been targeted by such animals. In the four days temperatures Rose to the sixties, at these temperature insects are active.
- It appears that the coroner’s verdict about the date of death of Ogle has been altered from March 12, 1986 to March 8, 1986. This is a strange finding which should be investigated further. Why did the coroner change his first conclusion?
- No receipt of the gun, exhibit 45, was found in the evidence released to IFS. The gun is the main piece of evidence which supposedly belonged to Montgomery and which was “matched with the bullets, cartridges, and casings found at the crime scenes of Tincher and Ogle. From a key piece of evidence one could expect that the chain of custody was properly documented, even in 1986.
- No blood tests were performed on the gun exhibit 45. Since both victims sustained a contact shots to the head is almost certain that the gun used contained their blood. Why was this not investigated? We can do it now, even after 30 years.
- No counter expertise was performed on gun and the “matches” with the bullets, cartridges, and casings. This could be a mistake of the defense but when you want to execute someone, a check of this evidence, in my opinion, would be important. E.G. the FBI could perform this counter expertise. (//www.fbi.gov/services/laboratory/scientific-analysis/firearms-toolmarks)
- Blood tests were performed on a small number of items but much more clothing of both defendants Heard and Montgomery should have been investigated. If the evidence is still present investigations could be performed by IFS.
- Bloodstain pattern analysis and crime scene reconstructions could have been performed in 1986. There is no evidence in the files IFS has received that this has taken place. IFS could do it now if all evidence and all pictures are provided to us.
- IFS does not have all the pictures in this case, but it is clear that more pictures should have been taken from victim crime scenes and all evidence. Even in 1986 this was normal practice with most police forces. In other old cases we worked on, much more pictures were available.
- A gun belonging to of grandmother of Glover Heard, a 38 special, was not brought into evidence. Although Glover Heard was a suspect. One injury to the skull of Debra Ogle is likely caused by a much heavier caliber gun than the .380 Bersa linked to the crimes. A 38 special would be a more likely gun to cause the damage to the skull of Debra Ogle.
- It is almost certain that a .380 gun malfunctioned on the crime scene of Debra Ogle. Two live cartridges were found at the scene. This supports the hypothesis that a second, more powerful, gun was used to kill Debra Ogle.
- This case relies heavily on witnesses. Witnesses are often proven wrong by DNA investigations, bloodstain pattern analysis and crime scene reconstructions. As a forensic scientist, I think forensic science is more reliable, when performed correctly, than certain eyewitnesses. Especially as the witness could get a death sentence unless he/she testifies.
- Touch DNA could shed light on the events that happened around the time the two girls were killed. Ogle had an injury on her arm which could have been caused during a struggle with the shooter. The jacket of Ogle can be investigated for touch DNA. DNA testing on the clothing of victims, suspects, gun cartridges and shell casings, which might be still available should be considered.
- Other persons than the two defendants could have been involved in the homicides. The statements described in police reports don’t reflect that, but does not mean that other persons than the defendants could have been involved. We see that in other cases and with DNA we were able to prove that.
- IFS would have performed DNA investigations on a limited number of samples for free. We also warned Montgomery that the case would be over as soon as we would find incriminating evidence. We did several cases where our investigations were more incriminating for the defense and we reported that to the courts. It could be part of a deal to report for a judge whatever the outcome of our investigations, so the defense cannot withhold our findings. Montgomery does have no problem to let us do a full investigation to find out what really happened during these two homicides. That is a dangerous thing to do if you are guilty.
- In their presentation for the parole board the DA’s have a slide that states that “unfired bullet from Tincher/Ogle apartment, copper jacketed, aluminum cartridge” This cartridge seems to have a lead bullet and not copper as seen on the other pictures. If this conclusion was drawn by a gun expert than there is a problem and it casts doubt on the rest of the investigation of the gun, casings, live rounds and bullets.
- There seems no clear motive for Montgomery to kill Ogle and Tincher.
From the NAS report:
“Challenges Facing the Forensic Science Community
For decades, the forensic science disciplines have produced valuable evidence that has contributed to the successful prosecution and conviction of criminals as well as to the exoneration of innocent people. Over the last two decades, advances in some forensic science disciplines, especially the use of DNA technology, have demonstrated that some areas of forensic science have great additional potential to help law enforcement identify criminals. Many crimes that may have gone unsolved are now being solved because forensic science is helping to identify the perpetrators.Those advances, however, also have revealed that, in some cases, substantive information and testimony based on faulty forensic science analyses may have contributed to wrongful convictions of innocent people. This fact has demonstrated the potential danger of giving undue weight to evidence and testimony derived from imperfect testing and analysis. Moreover, imprecise or exaggerated expert testimony has sometimes contributed to the admission of erroneous or misleading evidence. Further advances in the forensic science disciplines will serve three important purposes. First, further improvements will assist law enforcement officials in the course of their investigations to identify perpetrators with higher reliability. Second, further improvements in forensic science practices should reduce the occurrence of wrongful convictions, which reduces the risk that true offenders continue to commit crimes while innocent persons inappropriately serve time. Third, any improvements in the forensic science disciplines will undoubtedly enhance the Nation’s ability to address the needs of homeland security.”
“Lack of Mandatory Standardization, Certification, and Accreditation. The fragmentation problem is compounded because operational principles and procedures for many forensic science disciplines are not standardized or embraced, either between or within jurisdictions. There is no uniformity in the certification of forensic practitioners, or in the accreditation of crime laboratories. Indeed, most jurisdictions do not require forensic practitioners to be certified, and most forensic science disciplines have no mandatory certification programs. Moreover, accreditation of crime laboratories is not required in most jurisdictions. Often there are no standard protocols governing forensic practice in a given discipline. And, even when protocols are in place (e.g., SWG standards), they often are vague and not enforced in any meaningful way. In short, the quality of forensic practice in most disciplines varies greatly because of the absence of adequate training and continuing education, rigorous mandatory certification and accreditation programs, adherence to robust performance standards, and effective oversight. These shortcomings obviously pose a continuing and serious threat to the quality and credibility of forensic science practice.”
“Problems Relating to the Interpretation of Forensic Evidence. Often in criminal prosecutions and civil litigation, forensic evidence is offered to support conclusions about “individualization” (sometimes referred to as “matching” a specimen to a particular individual or other source) or about classification of the source of the specimen into one of several categories. With the exception of nuclear DNA analysis, however, no forensic method has been rigorously shown to have the capacity to consistently, and with a high degree of certainty, demonstrate a connection between evidence and a specific individual or source. In terms of scientific basis, the analytically based disciplines generally hold a notable edge over disciplines based on expert interpretation.”
to be continued…