Fighting With Dr. Levine

Dr. Lowell Levine wasn’t just any forensic odontologist. At the time of his testimony, he had recently identified the remains of Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele. That said, Levine was inclined to be cautious. In identifying Mengele, Levine said that the conclusion represented “a very, very, very high degree of probability. Scientists never say anything 100 percent.”

Courtesy New York Times

In choosing Dr. Levine, Mary Anne Henry noted that “the defense would like not to have Dean Moon identified.” But she added that she could not “foresee a reason why the defense would not want to settle the issue as to Dean Moon.”

Henry was half right.

Opposing The Truth

Dr. Lewis Levine

Weidner predictably opposed the motion to have Levine examine the dental remains. He said the procedure was potentially destructive, although it amounted to nothing more than sprinkling amalgam powder on the surface of the tooth to enhance efforts to get an identifying x-ray. He also objected to any further examination of the dental evidence without the presence of the defense’s own dental expert And, as a zinger, he added that “even if this tooth fragment appears to belong to someone other than Dean Moon, the State will nevertheless argue that he is dead.”

Carpeneti ruled for the state. And on December 7, 1987, Phillip Weidner received a letter from the Alaska Attorney General’s office, signed by Bob Blasco. The letter contained a single sentence. “This is to inform you that Drs. Bell, Levine and Alexander have all positively identified Dean Moon from one of the specimen exhibits.”

It would be a huge mistake to think that this positive ID closed the matter. Certainly it didn’t close it for good. Dean Moon was worth more to the defense alive than dead.

Excerpts from the unpublished original manuscript, “Sailor Take Warning,” by Leland E. Hale. That manuscript, started in 1992 and based on court records from the Alaska State Archive, served as the basis for “What Happened in Craig.”

Copyright Leland E. Hale (2020). All rights reserved.


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