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State v. Fortin

New Jersey Appellate Division

June 22, 2020

The defendant was convicted of homicide and sexual assault charges in 2000, was awarded a new trial, and in 2007 again convicted of the charges. In 2018, with the Innocence Project as his counsel, he moved for a new trial, arguing that changes in bitemark identification reliability and scientific validity had changed sufficiently to undermine his conviction. The trial court denied the motion and the Appellate Division affirmed. Of particular importance to the Appellate Division was the fact that, at the time of the 2007 retrial, bitemark identification science had already been called into question and that had been presented to the jury. The change between the 2007 trial and the 2018 motion for a new trial was not sufficient to warrant a new trial. The ruling may have had as much to do with the gruesome nature of the offense, and the general notoriety of the case as it did with the prevailing law.

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