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Prosecutors push back on tire track ID challenge in Addie appeal

Monroe County Jail


The Attorney General's Office defended the testimony a Missouri State Highway Patrol investigator gave that matched tire treads found at a murder scene to the suspect's car.

Assistant Attorney General Evan Buchheim wrote that the identification Trooper Jason Crafton made in James Addie's case properly backed up his work for use in court. Buchheim also said that Addie's legal team did not raise the issue of the science's alleged lack of peer review at trial.

Crafton's testimony and work on the case helped convict Addie of first-degree murder and armed criminal action for the death of Molly Watson last year. A Cole County jury found him guilty for shooting Watson, whom he was set to marry in just days, in rural Monroe County in 2018. Addie was married for 23 years to a different woman at the time he was set to marry Watson, his co-worker at the Moberly Correctional Center. Addie appealed the verdict in July 2021, raising just the one issue on Crafton's reliability.

Addie's appellant lawyer, Ellen Flottman, argued that Crafton's work did not meet the scientific standard Missouri law sets out for expert testimony. Crafton said at trial that many studies his process is based on and had scientific results, dealt with identifying footprints to specific shoes. While Crafton later said he did find some studies dealing with tire impressions, he said they discuss "very similar studies" done with footwear in the identification process.

Buchheim said that Crafton mentioned in court that impression analysis had been the subject of peer review. Crafton said one study found that footwear impression identifiers had a false positive rate of .49 percent, a correct positive predicted value of 98 percent and a negative predicted value of 93 percent. Crafton himself had been asked to review impressions "30 to 50" times, and had identified what left the mark "two or three times."

Addie will have a chance to respond to the attorney general's brief before a panel of Western District judges considers his case.

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Lucas Geisler

Lucas Geisler anchors 6 p.m., 9 p.m. and 10 p.m.. shows for ABC 17 News and reports on the investigative stories.


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