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Old March 15, 2012, 02:11 AM   #115
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Join Date: December 11, 2011
Posts: 230
Originally Posted by Spats McGee
The irrelevant point is that the Bias case is about suicide. The Rules of Evidence remain the same whether the case is Murder, Self-Defense, Breach of Contract or Alienation of Affection. The standards for the admissibility of the GSR residue which might have been so helpful remain the same, regardless of the nature of the case. In most states, SD is an affirmative defense, but not all. That doesn't change the rules of evidence, either.
As I point out above, if the prosecution can test exemplar rounds then so can the defense, if not then neither can. Yes there is a chance you won't be able to introduce evidence about GSR that might help exonerate you, but that chance is very small. The thing is that if it was a good shoot, a close shoot, and you used full-power rounds, not near-squibs like BIAS, then there will be GSR, and factual information about that GSR will be allowed. Worst case scenario the GSR has no impact, best case it proves your case even if your handloads are not allowed as evidence. If it was a good shoot and you claim it was from somewhat far away, then the GSR is irrelevant anyway. If it was a bad shoot and you lie, then too bad.

No, that's not right. The problem (IIRC) was that the crime lab tested a sample that differed significantly from Bias' handload. The GSR evidence from his handloads was (unsurprisingly) substantially different from the factory load GSR evidence. And distance from barrel to target was a significant factor.
Read the article again. They did not test FACTORY LOADS, they tested the WRONG hand loads. Besides, the bad tests were only used in the GRAND JURY to gain the indictment. If that evidence actually made its way into the real trial then Bias's lawyers failed miserably. Getting that disallowed would be trivial after Mas pointed out to the defense that the wrong ammo had been tested by the prosecution. Also if that was allowed then Mas's test would have to be allowed, which you indicate below they were not.

Even if the result after 4 trials is the same after it would have been after 1, had the GSR residue been admissible, Daniel Bias still had to go through 4 trials, and pay boatloads of legal fees. Besides, the GSR evidence on the handloads was was inadmissible.
In the article I read the prosecution was using handloads as admissible evidence in the Grand Jury, and there was no mention either way of that evidence being used in the trial at all. The key point though is what would have happened if he HAD used only factory loads... If he had used factory loads, and been telling the truth, then he MIGHT have gotten off after the first trial, or it might have been a hung jury anyway. But full strength handloads would have been just as useful because they would have left a lot of GSR like factory loads will. It was only the super-light loads that were in the gun that messed him up (again, only if he was telling the truth). Lesson learned, only make full strength handloads so you leave GSR on a close shoot.
However, on the other hand, he was found guilty. So it is actually quite likely he did shoot her accidentally on purpose, and in that case if he had been using factory loads there would still have been no GSR found on her (because of how far away he was) and so he would likely have been found guilty after the first trial since he would have clearly been lying about her shooting herself. If he had only heavy handloads that would also be the case. So his light handloads actually kept him out of prison for many years, through three failed prosecution attempts before he was finally found guilty on the fourth. He shot her, and handloading kept him out of jail, hand loads were incredibly helpful to him, not harmful.

This case has been beaten to death in a thread called "An Archive on Reloads and Self-Defense." It might prove helpful to spend some time reading those threads. The Bias case, while not an SD case, is a very good example of the rules of evidence at play, and certainly do show how using handloads can cause problems in court. The truth is that there simply are not many reported decisions in which handloads became an issue. Bias is the one (or one of few) cases on point, and GSR residue from handloads was held inadmissible in it.
I still don't see how the handloads caused problems for the defendant in court even if GSR wasn't allowed in court. In that case everything I said above about what would have happened with factory ammo remains true and he would have been found guilty in the first trial. The guys light handloads actually kept him out of prison for years on end after he shot the victim. Also all that is irrelevant to a self defense case where you don't lie about what happened (because if you claim correctly a close shoot there will be lots of GSR and you likely won't be prosecuted or that aspect of the situation will then be irrelevant to why you are prosecuted, and if you claim a distant shoot, then their won't be any GSR expected anyway).

Just because something is the best example available of something else doesn't inherently make it a GOOD example of that other thing. In this case it is a mediocre example at best, and more importantly the fact that it is the only example actually shows how little evidence there is to support the idea this example is supposed to support.

Again, I do not advocate carrying handloads for self defense. I honestly see no reason to do so in the first place. I even believe it might cause issues in court if a really unusual SD situation comes up. However, what I don't believe is that Mas or anyone else has yet provided a properly supported argument to this effect. I also believe that is the case with many supposed experts in various subjects. They end up presenting their opinions as fact because it is backed by experience. But experience does not create fact, only fact does. They will fail to test things because they experienced something similar, but not identical, before, and they assume they can just modify the results from that prior experience to apply them to the current one. If you are just messing around that is fine, but in a court of law that is a very bad thing. Bias is a perfect example of this. Someone tested the GSR (from the wrong handload) and then applied it to the case without considering any other factors like how the body was handled or how much blood comes from a head wound and how that might wash the GSR away. They relied on prior experience, not the facts of this actual case.
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