Motivated Guesswork and Stuart James

Stuart James is a forensic scientist and bloodstain pattern analyst with James and Associates Forensic Consultants, Inc. He is an internationally recognized authority in the field of blood stain analysis, with over four decades of experience.

Dr James has consulted on cases across the world including in the US, Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Newfoundland, South Korea and the US Virgin Islands. He has also co-authored several books on the subject of blood spatter and he testified for the defense in the murder trial of music producer Phil Spector in 2007.

More recently James was hired by Kathleen Zellner who works extensively in wrongful conviction advocacy. In the past 23 years Zellner has righted more wrongful convictions than any private attorney in America. Zellner is currently representing Steven Avery, who in 2007 was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment without possibility of parole for the murder of Teresa Halbach.

Dr. James is among the experts enlisted to determine how Avery’s blood was deposited in Halbach’s vehicle, as claimed by prosecutor Ken Kratz during the trial.

After reviewing photos of the crime scene and testimony from the trial, James is of the opinion that to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty, Mr. Avery would not have deposited blood near the ignition with his right middle finger while turning the key in the ignition, as has been suggested by the prosecution.

James disagrees with Nick Stalke (the State’s blood stain analyst) who testified that the bloodstain pattern on the interior of the cargo door of the RAV-4 was consistent with an impact pattern. Dr. James is of the opinion that this pattern
is consistent with a cast-off pattern, not an impact pattern.

James states in his affidavit that it is “extremely difficult to clean blood stains with heavy applications of bleach and paint thinner” in agreement with the State of Wisconsin’s expert John Ertl, who testified that he saw no bloodstain patterns whatsoever in Mr. Avery’s garage.

Dr. James’ entire sworn affidavit can be seen here.

A Reddit user from the subReddit “Steven Avery Is Guilty” has dismissed James’s experience and expertise: “James’ argument has nothing to do with science, and is motivated guesswork at best.”

In fact, James’ argument has EVERYTHING to do with science since he is a forensic SCIENTIST, specializing in Bloodstain Pattern Analysis, with over 40 years of experience.

Motivated Guesswork (or motivated reasoning) leads people to confirm what they already believe, while ignoring contrary data. To deny Stuart James expertise in the blood stain analysis field is transparently dishonest.