A hearing to determine whether Joe Bryan should be granted a new trial came to a dramatic conclusion on Monday with a surprise, eleventh-hour admission from the expert witness whose testimony had proved critical in convicting the former high school principal of the 1985 murder of his wife, Mickey. “My conclusions were wrong,” retired police Detective Robert Thorman wrote in an affidavit introduced by the defense of the bloodstain-pattern analysis he performed. “Some of the techniques and methodology were incorrect. Therefore, some of my testimony was not correct.” Bloodstain-pattern analysis is a forensic discipline whose practitioners regard the drops, spatters and trails of blood at a crime scene as clues, which can sometimes be used to reverse-engineer the crime itself. Thorman had only 40 hours of training in the discipline when he was called in to work on the Bryan case. His testimony about a blood-speckled flashlight that Mickey’s brother found in the trunk of Bryan’s car four days after the murder made the state’s tenuous theory of the crime seem plausible. At Bryan’s trial in 1986 and then again at his 1989 retrial, Thorman testified that tiny flecks of blood on the flashlight could only be “back spatter” — a pattern that indicated a close-range shooting. What connection the flashlight had to the crime, if any, was never clear; in 1985, a crime lab chemist found that the blood on it was type O, which corresponded not only to Mickey but to nearly half the population. But Thorman effectively tied the flashlight to the crime scene, going so far as to say that the killer had likely held the flashlight in one hand while firing a pistol with the other. Bryan had been attending a principals’ convention in Austin, 120 miles from where the murder occurred in Clifton, Texas, in the days surrounding the murder. He has always maintained that he was in Austin, asleep in his hotel room, at the time of the crime. During both trials, Thorman also helped explain away one of the biggest holes in the state’s case: no blood was ever found in the interior of Bryan’s Mercury, though the prosecution alleged that Bryan fled the messy crime scene in his car. Thorman provided an explanation for this, asserting that the killer had changed his clothes and shoes in the master bathroom of the Bryan home before making his escape. “In no way did I lie in my report or testimony,” Thorman stated in his affidavit, which is dated Sept. 13. “I was doing what I thought was correct as a result of my training at the time.” Thorman, who is now 80, did not specify which parts of his testimony had been incorrect. Blood-Spatter Expert in Joe Bryan Case Says “My Conclusions Were Wrong” — ProPublica 'Bout damn time.