Dr. Henry Lee defends testimony in overturned New Milford murder case from 1985


A vicious killing in New Milford over 33 years ago sent two teens to prison for murder. But last Friday those convictions were overturned by the State Supreme Court.

The big issue was concerns about the testimony from world-renowned forensic scientist Dr. Henry Lee. Now Dr. Lee is defending his reputation. 

“I’m 82. Happily retired. I just want to protect my reputation,” said Lee. 

December 2, 1985, 65-year-old Everett Car found dead in his home. He had been stabbed 27 times. Forensic Scientist Dr. Henry Lee spent two days at the crime scene.

“I testified according to scientific guidelines,” said Lee. 

In 1989 Ralph Birch and Shawn Henning were convicted of murder. But Friday the State Supreme Court reversed both convictions primarily based on Lee’s testimony that blood was found on a towel inside the victim’s bathroom.

Justice Richard Palmer wrote in a 23-page decision:

“We conclude that the state’s failure to correct Lee’s testimony that there was blood on the bathroom towel deprived the petitioner of a fair trial.”

“I did not make any mistake,” said Lee. 

Lee says his testimony was accurate. He says he conducted a field test on the towel and testified that it could be blood

But a follow-up confirmation test would have been required and that test was not completed until after the Connecticut Innocence Project took on the case in 2006.

“If you read my transcript, I did not say I found blood. I say chemical test is positive and consistent. May be blood. I did not say that’s human blood either,” said Lee. 

At the time, Lee was the director of the State Police Forensic Lab. He held a press conference Monday to defend his position that he made no mistake.

The Innocence Project says it applauds the Supreme Court decision and maintains that Birch and Henning are innocent.

Additional tests of the crime scene revealed DNA of an unknown female on four key pieces of evidence.

“Last night victim’s family sent me a lot of emails, letters and my heart is with them,” said Lee.

The Innocence Project tells me this isn’t only about Dr. Lee. They say the state’s attorney David Shepack had an obligation to correct Lee’s testimony and didn’t.

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