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Key witness in hearing to get Joe Bryan new trial admits mistake

After a four-week recess, Joe Bryan's defense team and the Bosque County District Attorney were back in a Comanche courtroom Monday discussing new DNA test results as well as some surprising new evidence.

Joe Bryan’s defense team made their final push Monday to prove he deserves a new trial.

Bryan was convicted of killing his wife Mickey in 1985 but has always claimed he was innocent.

Bryan’s attorney Jessi Freud delivered a shocking new piece of evidence in the form of an affidavit from Robert Thorman. Thorman was the bloodstain pattern analyst who was a key expert witness in both of Bryan's trials.

Initially, Thorman claimed the flashlight found in the trunk of Bryan’s car had to have been held by the killer because of blood spatter on it.

But in his September 13th affidavit, Thorman said after reviewing testimony from the first part of Bryan’s evidentiary hearing, he realized his testing, techniques and testimony may have been incorrect, but Thorman made it clear he wasn't lying.

Celestina Rossi, a crime scene investigator and bloodstain pattern analyst from Montgomery County, has been critical of Thorman’s work from the beginning.

She said his affidavit proves he was never qualified to be the expert witness against Bryan.

“So, there were so many things that he testified to in his trials both in '86 and '89 that were absolutely false. They were wrong. They were egregiously wrong. It wasn't just an error like he messed up on the time it takes. All of it was wrong,” Rossi said.

Earlier in the morning Brent Watson, DNA supervisor for the Waco DPS crime lab, detailed new DNA tests done by his department.

Watson said he tested six samples taken from the flashlight, the key piece of evidence against Bryan.

Only one showed a positive presumptive test for blood, although that test cannot determine if it was human blood or not.

Watson also said a swab of the flashlight lens was inconclusive for Mickey Bryan's DNA.

And when Bryan's defense team asked Watson if the state could determine whether Mickey's blood and DNA were on the flashlight he answered, “No, we cannot.”

Rossi said she believes the flashlight presents many problems.

"In a courtroom I’m familiar with I think we lose the flashlight," said Rossi. "I think the chain of custody is compromised and I think we have lost the integrity of the flashlight to ever be used in any subsequent trial.”

Bryan's defense team closed Monday by saying his trials were never done the right way and asking the judge to fix this.

As for district attorney Adam Sibley, he didn't have much to say in court, but he did urge the judge to look at everything as a whole, not the separate pieces of information detailed by Bryan’s lawyers.

He also asked for more time to review Thorman’s affidavit and new evidence.

Lawyers on both sides will meet with Judge Doug Shaver in November about the final facts in the case.

Then Shaver will make a recommendation to the Court of Criminal Appeals who has the final say whether Joe Bryan will get a new trial.

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