The Torgersen case - a judicial murder
In december 1957, the 16 years old girl Rigmor Johnsen was brutally murdered in Oslo. The police early suspected a man called Fredrik Fasting Torgersen and focused the investigation on him. He was found guilty by the court and given a life sentence.
Torgersen himself has always said that he is innocent, and the case has been highly controversial in Norway for decades. A website in Norwegian - http://torgersensaken.no - provides strong arguments for his innocence. Still, his calls for resumptions have been denied by the formally independent Norwegian Criminal Cases Review Commission in 2006 and 2010.
One of the main evidences used against Torgersen when he was convicted, was some marks the murderer left in the wictim's breast by biting her. That time's medical experts claimed, without any doubt, that there was "identity" between Torgersen's teeth and the bite in the wictim's breast - and the evidence was as detrimental to Torgersen as if his fingerprints had been found at the crime scene.
Today, the tooth evidence is totally discredited. The Forensic Medical Commission stated in both 2001 and 2004 that the marks on the breast is no evidence against Torgersen, and several newer expert reports conclude that Torgersen's teeth cannot have reated the marks on the breast.
Even the Criminal Cases Review Commission admits that the teeth evidence cannot be used against Torgersen:
"The Commission finds that the many partially contradictory opinions on the teeth evidence and conclusions regarding identification and exclusion of Torgersen among experts, can create doubt regarding to what extent the evidence connects Torgersen to the murder."
However, the Commission claims that there is no reason to claim that the teeth evidence was given much weight when Torgersen was sentenced in 1958.
In fact, the teeth evidence was considered an excellent scientific evidence in 1958, as this quote from the experts show:
"Fredrik Fasting Torgersen's teeth have several special characteristics which all without exception are found in the bite in the victim. From a scientific point of view, it is very likely that the bite in Rigmor Johnsen's breast comes from the suspect, Fredrik Ludvig Fasting Torgersen. From my personal experience, knowledgeable about my responsibility, i consider the bitemark in the victim's breast to be identical with Fredrik Ludvig Fasting Torgersen's teeth." (Dentist Ferdinand StrÝm 1958).
At http://torgersensaken.no/saken-mot-torgersen/tannbittbeviset, you can see an illustration by Dr. David Senn, comparing the bite by the murderer to what one could expect to find if Torgersen was the murderer.
The sprigs of spruce evidence
In the cellar where the victim was found, there was also found some sprigs from an old christmas tree. Five ordinary sprigs were also found on the suit which Torgersen wore before he went home the evening when the murder took place.
Two professors, Henrik Printz and Elias Mork found these spruces to be an evidence against Torgersen. Printz claimed that the spruces on Torgersen's suit were of the same kind as the spruces on the christmas tree. They had an extraordinary and rare form, extraordinary short, from 5 to 8 mm; ordinary lengt of Norwegian spruce is 12 to 15 mm. The professor had never seen anything like this and even considered the thought that the christmas tree could stem from Caucasia.
Professor Elias Mork, claimed that he had never seen such sprigs, even though he had for seven years systematically examined sprigs of spruce from the entire country to katalogue deviations in form and lengths in sprigs of spruce.
Professor Printz even presented the theory that the special form of the srigs could be caused by a mutation. This made it possible for Prosecutor Dorenfeldt to say the following in his final procedure:
"We now come to the spruces, and they make us even surer. We have got statements from international experts, and the sprigs are a decisive scientific evidence. None of the five sprigs were of a different kind than those at the christmas tree in the cellar. The possibility that the sprigs do not come frem Skippergata, possibly one to one billion, has to be disconsidered."
Today, the spruces from Torgersen's suit have been lost, but some sprigs from the cellar have been conserved. Today one knows that there is nothing special to these sprigs; they came from an ordinary Norwegian spruce and were ordinary short sprigs. This is not disputed.
The decisions by the Criminal Cases Review Commission in 2006 and 2010 are filled with flaws, which is documented at http://torgersensaken.no. I will here only point at one example. In 2006 the Commission claimed (page 517) that the experts in 1958 did not claim that Torgersen was connected to the murder by the teeth, sprigs and stools evidences, with near 100 % certainity.
This is false, as quotes from the experts demonstrate:
The teeth evidence: "identical"