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An ignored witness to homicides: A criminal defense expert’s dilemma

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There is no agency in California for an expert to report malfeasance in the handling of a criminal case by attorney, judge or when junk science is suspected by another expert. In addition, an independent criminal defense expert can be constrained by a nondisclosure agreement from revealing to an authority his work product when it documents inappropriate behavior by another expert.

A nondisclosure agreement also prevents a forensic scientist from publishing a case that would advance criminal justice. Publishing a case subjects the expert’s work product to peer review, a foundation principle of science. Expert reports or testimony in litigation are usually not subject to peer review, which perpetuates junk science in litigation. The conflict between civil/criminal litigation and science leaves no doubt “forensic science” is an oxymoron. For this to be otherwise, all expert work product submitted in litigation, either civil or criminal, must be subject to peer review. Of course, it is not practical for peer review of all work product submitted in litigation, but the threat of peer review would likely be sufficient to inhibit experts from proffering client-biased reports/testimony.

People v. Corey Lyons, Santa Barbara, CA (2011, Case # 1296247) is a case in point for these issues. Mr. Lyons, as a result of a family dispute, is alleged to have revenge killed his attorney brother, Daniel Lyons, and attorney sister-in-law, Barbra Scharton. The Probable Cause Narrative, www.meixatech.com/LYONS PROBCAUSE.pdf, was filed by the prosecution against Corey Lyons. I was retained by the defense to examine the gunshot residue (GSR) and crime scene evidence.

The issues:

1. The defense attorney refused to put me on the stand during Corey’s trial despite the large amount of exculpatory evidence generated by my examination. My testimony could have resulted in the acquittal of Mr. Lyons.

2. The prosecution’s GSR evidence, which was the cited reason by members of the jury for the conviction of Corey Lyons, was junk science. My peer-reviewed article was presented at the SPIE Scanning meeting at Monterey, CA last September which analyzed the GSR evidence in People v. Corey Lyons: www.meixatech.com/LYONS GSR SCIENCE TO JUNK.pdf

3. The crime scene reconstruction of the Barbara Scharton homicide, www.meixatech.com/SCHARTON HOMICIDE.pdf, corrected the bizarre reconstruction by the prosecution expert.

4. The crime scene reconstruction of the Daniel Lyons homicide (three parts), www.meixatech.com/PART 1 LYONS HOMICIDE.pdf, www.meixatech.com/PART 2 LYONS HOMICIDE.pdf, www.meixatech.com/PART 3 LYONS HOMICIDE.pdf, corrected the bizarre reconstruction by the prosecution expert.

5. Santa Barbara Judge Brian Hill, refused to consider (or probably even read) this exculpatory evidence when presented to him after the trial.

6. The Prosecutor, Gordon Auchincloss, when a letter was sent informing of these issues, sent it to the defense attorney. I was then threatened by the defense attorney with a lawsuit due to our nondisclosure agreement.

7. The defendant, Corey Lyons, now residing at Corcoran State Prison, has not responded to my letters calling on him to actively pursue an official review of his trial. Does Corey enjoy his prison life? Not likely.

8. A brother of Corey, Patrick Lyons called me believing Corey’s innocence. When I called Patrick a few weeks later, he obviously was no longer interested in helping his brother get out of prison.

9. A letter was sent to Corey’s appellate attorney, Ms. Tracy Dressner, La Crescenta, CA, outlined why Corey was unlikely to have murdered his brother and sister-in-law was never answered. Two follow up letters weren’t answered. Is Ms. Dressner still Corey’s appellate attorney?

10. A reporter for the Santa Barbara Independent newspaper, Chris Meagher, expressed great interest that Corey was convicted by junk science. He broke off communication with me without explanation a few days after the initial email conversation.

11. A Latino community activist in Santa Barbara, Larry Mendoza, without explanation, broke off a two-year friendship where I was helping him write his blogs. This occurred when I asked him to present my work on Corey Lyons in his blog.

My evidence would have gutted the prosecution’s case: the prosecution’s crime scene reconstruction was not possible, the GSR testimony was junk science, there was likely a street gang member involved in the homicides and a victim’s personal item was removed from the house the night of homicides (i.e., a burglary occurred). My personal attorney affirmed the nondisclosure agreement overrides evidence the homicides were by a person (more likely persons) other than Corey Lyons. The links to my article and reports are provided – comments and criticisms will be appreciated: below or brburnett@meixatech.com.


Burnett is a gunshot residue expert and certified crime scene reconstructionist. He has over seventy publications, most peer reviewed, spanning more than forty years (www.meixatech.com/cv.pdf).

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