Steven Hayne Admits to Perjury

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

It’s been a while since we visited the Steven Hayne saga in Mississippi. There was some big news today.

If you’ll remember, when my story about Hayne broke and the Innocence Project went after him a short time later, Hayne was asked by the Jackson Clarion-Ledger about why he was never board certified in forensic pathology by the American Board of Pathology. Here was his response:

He said the American Board of Pathology hasn’t certified him because he walked out of the examination. He said he got angry at what he regarded as a stupid question – ranking in order what colors are associated with funerals instead of asking questions about forensic pathology.

“I’ve got a temper. I don’t put up with crap like that,” he said. “I walked out and took another examination from another board.”

After that article ran, the paper was contacted by the American Board of Pathology:

“As the executive director of the American Board of Pathology I was surprised by Dr. Hayne’s description of the ‘stupid question’ (related to colors associated with funerals) on his forensic pathology examination that caused him to walk out of the exam,” Dr. Betsy Bennett said by e-mail. “Dr. Hayne took the forensic pathology examination in 1989. I pulled the text of this examination from our files, and there was no question on that examination that was remotely similar to Dr. Hayne’s description.”

When confronted with this information, Hayne responded:

“She is flat wrong. She doesn’t know what she’s talking about.”

He said he would stake his reputation and career on that question appearing on the test, saying, “It’s like remembering where you were when men landed on the moon.”

And now, the latest.

The latest salvo comes in a post-conviction relief motion filed in Monroe County Circuit Court by attorneys for former Mississippi State University professor David Parvin, convicted last year in the 2007 shooting death of his wife.

Hayne now acknowledges a previous statement he made in connection with his credentials isn’t true, according to the documents filed by Parvin’s attorneys on appeal, James L. Robertson of Jackson, Jim Waide of Tupelo and Tucker Carrington, who heads the Mississippi Innocence Project.

Hayne had testified under oath in a 2004 trial and reiterated to The Clarion-Ledger in 2008 that he walked out of an 1989 exam for certification in forensic pathology because of a stupid question about ranking in order what colors are associated with funerals.

In a recent deposition by the Innocence Project, Hayne was confronted with the exam and admitted there was no such question about death, lawyers wrote.

At the time Hayne “walked out” of the exam, he was failing it, lawyers wrote.

That means he not only flat-out lied to the Clarion-Ledger in 2008, he has now admitted under oath that he lied in his testimony at a murder trial. And probably not just one.

Longtime defense lawyer Matthew Eichelberger recalled quizzing Hayne about the same matter.“That man looked me in the eye, looked all 12 jurors in the eye and looked Circuit Judge Betty Sanders in the eye,” he said. “And he swore that he walked out of the exam because it contained all of these absurd questions. Of course, we now definitively know that not to be true.”

In the case that brought all of this out, Hayne claimed under oath that he could tell by a shotgun wound how far away the muzzle of the gun was from the victim when it was fired. So we now have definitive evidence that Hayne has lied under oath about his qualifications. He has also repeatedly lied about them out of court. And the Mississippi Supreme Court itself has found that Hayne gave testimony in a murder case that was unsupported by science (preposterous is more like it). What do you think, will Mississippi finally show some sense of shame and admit that every case in which this guy was involved now needs to be reexamined? Think we’ll see him arrested and charged with perjury?

Nah. Me neither.

By the way, Jeffrey Havard was convicted of murdering his girlfriend’s little girl almost exclusively because of Hayne’s testimony. That testimony has since been called into question by qualified forensic pathologists. Havard was denied again by the Mississippi Supreme Court earlier this year. His post-conviction petition is now in federal court. If he loses there, he’ll likely get an execution date.

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41 Responses to “Steven Hayne Admits to Perjury”

  1. #1 |  Lawman 9mm | 

    I’ve never set foot in Mississippi. Don’t intend to either. Rowanda would be better.

  2. #2 |  William Anderson | 

    One more reason for my blood to boil. The prosecutors and judges and lawyers who have propped up Hayne’s perjury are just as guilty as Hayne. Prosecutors knew his testimony was ludicrous and that they were convicting innocent people, and the judges knew it, too, but did not care.

  3. #3 |  tam | 

    Absolutely NO reason Jeffery Havard should still be sitting in prison for the contrived garage this so called “expert” testified to.

    Thanks for posting this story.

  4. #4 |  John Thacker | 

    Don’t forget that Mississippi re-elected AG Jim Hood (D) over Steve Simpson, where the latter, whatever his other flaws, was at least trying to make more of a case about Hayne, whereas Hood has been a Hayne enabler.

  5. #5 |  ZK | 

    The shotgun-wound vs. distance thing actually seems like something one could do scientifically, so long as they were sure which shotgun fired the shot in question.

  6. #6 |  rapscallion | 

    Hayne seems beyond incompetent and biased; he seems like he might be borderline crazy. Maybe he has Lance Armstrong Syndrome, which makes you double down extra hard and attack viciously immediately after being caught point blank in a lie.

  7. #7 |  MPH | 

    Someone who lies under oath for the prosecution should face the same penalty in their perjury trial as the defendant.

  8. #8 |  Radical Edward | 

    @rapscallion
    I think I remember reading about that disease… It’s caused by not having enough balls to do the right thing and take responsibility for your actions.

  9. #9 |  kind bud | 

    ZK,
    I think that not only would you need to know what shotgun fired the shell, but you would need to know what type of shot, what type of load, the amount of charge, and at any distance greater than about 50 feet, you would need to know windage and elavation as well.

    Oh, and you would need a computer as fast as any of the forensic TV shows.

    And about a dozen Ph.Ds in physics.

    Or, were you trolling, and I just got sucked in?

    KB

  10. #10 |  Radley Balko | 

    The shotgun-wound vs. distance thing actually seems like something one could do scientifically…

    Just heard from all the prosecutors in Mississippi. They’d like to know if you’re available for jury duty.

  11. #11 |  AlgerHiss | 

    We now have Michael “Shake” Reichert.

    Perhaps Steven “Nifong” Hayne?

  12. #12 |  RT | 

    Yes, the shotgun distance is able to be determined as long as you have the same shotgun and use the same shell as was used to make the shot. By seeing how wide the pattern is, you can determine the approximate range the shot was made from. (as long as shot was used and not a slug) Also if any soot residue is on the person that can also determine if it was fired at very close range. Hayne is a scumbag, but even scumbags occasionally get something right even if by accident.

  13. #13 |  Rob | 

    Radley: I’m not exactly an expert shotgunner, but I’ve been shooting them for 15 years or so and I read a lot about it.

    It is possible, BUT: You need to have the shotgun in question, in the exact same configuration it was in during the shooting, along with shells from the same batch that were used in the shooting.

    Shotgun patterns expand at a fairly linear rate; IIRC, it’s something like 1-2″ every ten feet on average. The rate can change depending on choke, the type of shot used, and any modifications to the barrel (for instance, lengthening the forcing cone, a not greatly uncommon modification, will result in tighter groups). Different shotguns, even if they’re the same model with the exact same configuration, will also tend to throw shot differently, which is why it’s important to have the exact same shotgun.

    So, in order to determine a rough distance, you would need to take the shotgun out to the range and set up some cardboard targets at regular intervals – every 5 or 10 feet or so – and shoot the gun at each interval to see how the shot expands. From there, you can determine a rough estimate accurate to within a couple feet, give or take.

    Somehow, though, I doubt this guy went to all that trouble.

  14. #14 |  Rob | 

    That should be 1-2″ of expansion per yard, instead of 10 feet. Apparently my recollection was wrong.

  15. #15 |  RobZ | 

    ZK seems to me to have a good point. It’s just physics. Given an exact copy of the shotgun and shells used in a crime, it would under some circumstances, be possible to say something about how far away the shooter probably was from the victim.

    For example, if there no individual pellet holes, that would seem to be good evidence of a shot from relatively close range. Or if there was wadding in the wound, that would also seem to be pretty good evidence of a close range shot.

  16. #16 |  johnl | 

    Not an expert here but RT seems to be right. You might need also to know the angle at which the victim was facing the gunn.

  17. #17 |  Radley Balko | 

    You could possibly estimate the distance if you knew the precise position of the victim and the position and height of the gun at the time it was fired, and could replicate all of those things. None of these variables were known in this case. And I don’t know how precise you could be about the distance.

    It’s similar to the testimony Hayne gave in the Cory Maye case, where he claimed he could say that Maye was standing, not lying down, when he shot Ron Jones because of the bullet’s trajectory through Jones’ body. It seemed intuitive. But it’s far from definitive. He didn’t know the position of the victim, or the height or position of the gun — two critical variables if you’re trying to estimate the position of the shooter.

    And yes, I also highly doubt Hayne would have performed any of these tests even if the variables were known. His history is of a guy who eyeballs it.

  18. #18 |  Stephen | 

    I have a degree in physics and I have shot many rounds through a shotgun.

    If I had the exact shotgun and the same rounds that were used, I could give a reasonable estimate of distance for SOME shot guns.

    There are many types of “choke” for shotguns. Some keep the shot closer together for a lot longer distance than others. An “open” choke type gun would be pretty easy to determine distance. A “full” choke would be much harder to determine.

    I also doubt Hayne bothered with any of this or conducted any tests.

  19. #19 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    @#9,
    Because of significant recoil, don’t forget to get weight of shooter and strength along with proper form and…aw fuck it.

  20. #20 |  SJE | 

    If Havard appeals to the SCOTUS, this should be very interesting. Here is a man who has been convicted entirely on the testimony of a fraud and an admitted perjurer, and Scalia who says he has never seen “actual innocence” and thinks that the system works just fine.

    I wonder if this also reopens the prosecutorial immunity issue. If they don’t indict Hayne, it will be further evidence that they cannot police themselves. Here’s hoping

  21. #21 |  Dave Reed | 

    re: SJE’s comment on SCOTUS.

    It seems simple to me. All the court has to do is not hear the case. By not hearing the case, they have no problem with his “actual innocence” and the system continues to work just fine.

    It will, of course, be a little inconvenient for Harvard.

  22. #22 |  Robert | 

    “if you knew the precise position of the victim and the position and height of the gun at the time it was fired,”

    Determined by the tracks of the pellets as they entered the body of the victim. That tells you what angle the shot came from.

  23. #23 |  Chris Mallory | 

    “Range of fire

    Range of fire, or muzzle to target distance, may be divided into contact, near contact, intermediate, and distant categories, with various subtypes also demonstrable. Contact and intermediate range wounds are often collectively referred to as close-range wounds.

    Determination of range of fire is based on the characteristics of a firearm wound, features of the wound that have been imparted by material issuing from the muzzle of the firearm other than the bullet, or from features due to direct interactions between the target and the firearm itself. Material from the firearm muzzle may take the form of soot, hot gas, gunpowder particles, or other material, and the effects of this material are discussed in more detail below.[5] The range of fire has obvious relevance to such issues as whether a wound is self-inflicted or inflicted by another person, the truth of proffered explanations of shooting events, and the validity of self-defense arguments. ”

    http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1975428-overview#aw2aab6b5

  24. #24 |  Chris Mallory | 

    “Shotgun wounds are unique by virtue of the fact that the ammunition (referred to as a shotshell) usually contains multiple, small projectiles (shot) instead of a single bullet. However, in a contact shotgun wound, the shot charge enters the body en masse, causing a wound that resembles one due to a single projectile. In such a case, there may be a round-to-oval wound with marginal abrasion. Due to the long barrels typical of shotguns, combustion of the powder charge may be more complete, such that soot and powder stippling may be less apparent than in wounds seen with handguns.

    Once a shotshell has been fired, the mass of pellets gradually begins to expand and separate as distance from the muzzle increases, and this allows assessment of range of fire in most shotgun wounds.

    As the muzzle-to-target distance increases from a contact wound, a more irregular entrance wound with scalloped edges may occur due to early pellet spread. As distance increases to a few meters, the margin of the wound will become ragged, and at a slightly longer distance, discrete individual “satellite” defects may be seen around the main wound due to individual pellet strikes.”

    More at the link.
    http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1975428-overview#aw2aab6c17

  25. #25 |  Weird Willy | 

    My father was a two-time state trap shooting champion who worked part-time as a field tester for Winchester-Western. One of the things I recall distinctly from viewing his pattern spreads on target paper is how dramatically the patterns would vary from one round to another, even when the same load configuration was fired from the same weapon. Dad’s favorite goose gun was a Belgian-made Browning Auto 5 manufactured in the late 1930s, which, while in all other respects a wonderful weapon, always had a substantial hole in its shot pattern (which is why he never used it in his field testing work). The location of this hole would shift from one round to another, and at times would be large enough at 40 yards to allow a goose to fly through the pattern. Many, if not most shotguns have frequent holes and localized points of concentration in their patterns, making it difficult to determine how far away a weapon may have been from a target based solely on the shot distribution within a partial pattern.

    Also, pellet deformation occurs largely as an independent, uncontrollable variable, one that may be determined as much by the individual packing and orientation of the pellets in a shell as by any congenital characteristic of the firearm. There is simply no way to eliminate or account for flyers developed by deformed pellets in the pattern, with the result being that the dimensions of a complete shot pattern may vary substantially from round to round. When one also considers the issue of rounds of varying dram weight equivalents producing the same wound effects and pattern distortions at different ranges, and under different atmospheric conditions, one realizes the enormity of the difficulty in making a forensic determination of the range at which a shotgun discharged its load at a target.

    Unless one can be sure that a test utilizes the exact same shotgun, firing the exact same load type and configuration, under the exact same atmospheric conditions, and is able to analyze a wound pattern that is statistically confirmed to be complete, I would be highly suspect of any range estimates that the test might yield. Even then, I would only be willing to view the resulting estimate as a ballpark figure, and would not really on it for any estimate of range specifying a substantial distance from the muzzle. If I had a client who was being accused on the basis of a test that did not satisfy these conditions, I would defend against it *vigorously*, mustering whatever resources I could in an effort to bring in my own expert witness.

  26. #26 |  SJE | 

    Sadly, and very true, Dave Reed. I hope that the stink of perjury will garner enough votes for this case to be heard.

  27. #27 |  Weird Willy | 

    Additionally consider the fact that wadding and case remnants becoming introduced into the shot string can also significantly distort the size and distribution within a pattern, and the problem becomes even greater.

  28. #28 |  a_random_guy | 

    Why is there any discretion in prosecuting this guy for perjury? If one single affected person files a complaint with the police, really, they should have no choice but to open a criminal investigation.

    That’s probably naive – any lawyer types want to explain why it isn’t the case?

  29. #29 |  Mike Williams | 

    a_random_guy:

    Discretion is involved in every prosecution at every level. Human beings decide which charges, if any, are to be filed. To “open a criminal investigation” is almost a phrase without any meaning. If a government bigwig decides that Person A shall not take a fall, Person A will never be “investigated” in any real sense of that word. If circumstances dictate that the police have to write a report, the passive voice will rear its head: “An investigation was conducted and no probable cause regarding Person A was found.” If the complaint was a written complaint, precise facts that would point to guilt are ignored.

    (As an aside, the converse is much more common, and at least as frightening: Bigwig predetermines that Person X SHALL take a fall…)

  30. #30 |  Mike | 

    Hayne’s cases can’t be reexamined, as that would call into question the integrity of the process.

    Yes, I just puked writing that.

  31. #31 |  contactgsw | 

    As a forensic pathologist I am proud of Chris and W. Willy, very knowledgeable and well stated didactics. Of course saying what Dr. H said gets him the money and the cases (over 1000/year, at about a grand or so a case for many years, not bad, and about 4 times more a year than I could ever sustain) so its a sort step from good medical decision making, to saying what the people paying you want to hear. Like that favorite line in my favorite western: A man pays me his money, I ride for the brand. Great for westerns, not so hot for good medical practice.

  32. #32 |  KPRyan | 

    #2 (William Anderson) Couldn’t be more right on.

    Yep, Haynes is a dirtball and should be locked away for the hell he has visited on his fellow man. But the guilt rests just as firmly on the DA’s and Judges who would like to now claim they were fooled by Hayne’s words and demeanor. At best everyone in the ‘justice’ system who used Haynes to destroy another should be fired and barred from ever practicing law again.

  33. #33 |  SJE | 

    @31: If Hayne had obtained his license, he might have learned the ethic requirements to practice, which are supposed to curtail shameless shilling.

  34. #34 |  Burgers Allday | 

    This one is sure to bring Mr. Balko back.

  35. #35 |  Burgers Allday | 

    A Memphis Police officer was shot by another officer in north Memphis this afternoon.
    Police Director Toney Armstrong said officer officer Willie Bryant was serving a search warrant when he was attacked by a Pit Bull.
    Armstrong said another officer attempted to shoot the dog but hit Bryant by accident.
    The shooting happened near Arrington & 7th.
    The officer is in surgery at The MED and is in Critical condition.
    The officer, who is not identified, was wearing a bullet resistant vest.
    A witness said she heard three shots fired.

  36. #36 |  celticdragonchick | 

    Oh Buh-ruh-ther!

    Example 5,238 why Ayn rand fetishists are not really Libertarians…

    All family and friends, even close family and friends, who I know to be Democrats are hereby dead to me. I vow never to speak to them again for the rest of my life, or have any communications with them. They are in short, the enemies of liberty. They deserve nothing less than hatred and utter contempt.

    I strongly urge all other libertarians to do the same. Are you married to someone who voted for Obama, have a girlfriend who voted ‘O’. Divorce them. Break up with them without haste. Vow not to attend family functions, Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas for example, if there will be any family members in attendance who are Democrats.

    Do you work for someone who voted for Obama? Quit your job. Co-workers who voted for Obama. Simply don’t talk to them in the workplace, unless your boss instructs you too for work-related only purposes. Have clients who voted Democrat? Call them up this morning and tell them to take their business elsewhere.

    Have a neighbor who votes for Obama? You could take a crap on their lawn. Then again, probably not a good idea since it would be technically illegal to do this. But you could have your dog take care of business. Not your fault if he just happens to choose that particular spot.

    I have heard this guy (who was fired from Ron Paul’s campaign this year) is a joke in the Libertarian community, and he is certainly a Randroid. The whole “going Galt” thing will certainly teach a lesson to all of the rest of us, yessiree!

    What I can say with some certainly is that, while there are assholes in every human community on Earth,Ii have never, ever corresponded with any Libertarian who insisted that assholishness was a condition of being part of the movement…

  37. #37 |  celticdragonchick | 

    Link to the above statement from Eric Dondero:

    http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2012/11/eric-dondero-boycott-democrat-libertarian.html

  38. #38 |  Aresen | 

    celticdragonchick

    Eric Donnndddddeeeeeerrrrrrrrroooooooooooooooo [sic] is not a Randroid. He is a moron.

    In 2008, he supported Guiliani for a while. He endorsed Romney as the true libertarian choice in 2012.

    In his own minde, he is the ONE TRUE LIBERTARIAN. Unfortunately, he is to libertarianism as the guy on the streetcorner with the John 3:16 sign is to Christianity.

  39. #39 |  celticdragonchick | 

    Areson

    LOL! Donnndddddeeeeerrrrrooooooo! Awesome sauce.

  40. #40 |  liberranter | 

    I’m almost tempted to say at this point that Mississippi and anyone who would willingly live in such a state deserve each other…

  41. #41 |  cookiegal | 

    Please sign Jeffrey Havard’s petition at:

    http://www.change.org/petitions/united-states-district-judge-keith-starrett-grant-jeffrey-havard-a-new-trial-to-prove-he-was-wrongfully-convicted#

    Learn more at http://www.freejeffreyhavard.com Thanks!

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