The Telltale Corpse

Ed Whittaker, Dade's leading criminalist, finds a lively story in every dead body

Vehicles figure prominently in many of Whittaker's most notorious crime lab cases, and also in his recent work as a criminalist. In a local "road rage" case, a young man was charged with murder, though he had merely defended himself when an assailant first tried to shoot him, then stab him with a sharpened ten-inch screwdriver. These events took place after the young man and his assailant both pulled their cars off the road on State Road 826 after a driving altercation. Whittaker's analysis of the crime scene photos helped the defendant beat the charges.

And in a Cayman Islands murder case in which the victim was killed in his car, Whittaker's testimony made a mockery of the prosecutor's charges against the defendants, two Jamaican brothers. The criminalist's courtroom appearance was so convincing that near the end of the trial, an excited juror jumped out of his seat and hollered, "Not guilty, m'lordship!" The defendants left the courtroom free men. Whittaker later learned inadvertently from the Cayman Islands police that the Jamaicans had been charged because of their nationalities.

In each of Whittaker's 21 cases, his analysis of the evidence, often coupled with his convincing testimony in court, has proved invaluable. "Every one of the defendants either walked out of court or were not even taken to trial," he says proudly. "I like to bring the truth before the court. An innocent person should never be forced to spend even one hour behind bars.

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