Response to Long Soldier's original "New Evidence" page

The original "New Evidence" page was posted in April of 2004 and was removed from the Longsoldier-international website on January 15, 2005. It was replaced with the current (Jan. 2005) version.  This is a response to the original version.

Responses are posted in blue.


Regarding Arnold Melnikoff's Testimony:

Arnold Melnikoff was employed by the Montana State Crime Lab as a hair and fiber analyst and lab manager at the time of Van Dyken's case.  Melnikoff examined hairs found in the abandoned Chevrolet Monte Carlo and testified that they were indistinguishable from Van Dyken's hair. He also testified that a blue, tan and grey fiber found on a bullet imbedded in the Monte Carlo's dashboard was virtually identical to the fibers in the lining of the coat that Van Dyken was wearing when he was arrested. 

In 1989 Melnikoff left the Montana State Crime Lab and began working for the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab. In 1997 DNA testing revealed that he had drawn erroneous conclusions in a case while working in Montana. 

Since then, DNA analysis of samples, have confirmed at least three cases in which examinations and testimony by Arnold Melnikoff have been inaccurate or incorrect. Peer review of these cases have indicated that Melnikoff relied on statistical probability theories that were contrary to generally accepted scientific principals, and that he had a fundamental lack of understanding about what can be said about human hair comparisons and about the difference between casework and empirical research. 

Melnikoff's erroneous conclusions and testimony have led the Montana State Attorney General's Office to conduct a review of cases in which Melnikoff's testimony might have led to false convictions. 

In Van Dyken's case the hair evidence was but one piece of many pieces of evidence tying Van Dyken to the stolen car. Other evidence included fingerprints, eye witness testimony that Van Dyken was driving the Chevrolet Monte Carlo which had been stolen from his ex-mother in law, the fact that he had the keys to both the doors and trunk of the Monte Carlo in his possession at the time of his arrest.  Even Van Dyken's own sworn testimony in which he admits to shooting in the general direction of a law enforcement officer that had stopped him on the night of the homicide and that he then "ditched" the car because he thought the officer was still pursuing him after he drove away.

The evidence tying Van Dyken to the stolen Chevrolet Monte Carlo is overwhelming.

Van Dyken Long Soldier's newest defense strategy of "self-defense" would seem to concede that he was driving the car that Sergeant Kimery stopped the night of the homicide.

Van Dyken makes the statement: "Recent studies have concluded that fingerprint analysis is not a science."  He also attacks fingerprint analyst Conover's testimony relating to fingerprints found on items inside the stolen Monte Carlo, and whether or not the comparison was made on a specific number of "points."  

Fingerprinting or friction ridge identification is a science that has progressed over the past 100 years to become the standard for crime scene identifications the world over.

The following information can be found on the Scientific Working Group on Friction Ridge Analysis Study and Technology  website.

"There is no valid scientific or any legal basis for requiring a minimum number of matching points (ridge characteristics) needed to effect an identification. Conclusions are not based solely on the number of matching points of similarity, but on a series of observations involving a thorough examination of minute ridge detail."

"An identification is made when, in the judgment of the examiner, the degree of similarity between the two prints is sufficient to warrant that conclusion. The result of any comparison is the opinion of the examiner based on training, experience and understanding of the science."

If Mr. Van Dyken and his defense attorney really believe that there is a possibility of a mis-identification they would obtain a qualified expert and challenge the identification rather than attempting to attack the science of fingerprinting. 

Long Soldier complains that there were only three fingerprints matching his found with the stolen Chevrolet Monte Carlo.

How many matching fingerprints does it take to tie him to the crime?  

Again the evidence tying Van Dyken to the stolen Chevrolet Monte Carlo is overwhelming.

Van Dyken Long Soldier's newest defense strategy of "self-defense" would seem to concede that he was driving the car that Sergeant Kimery stopped the night of the homicide.

On his website Van Dyken claims that the ballistics testimony is false and fabricated.

Van Dyken insists that the ballistics testimony is fabricated but fails to provide any explanation of how his "expert" draws that conclusion.

Newspaper reports indicated that crime lab ballistic expert Bill Newhouse testified that the lands and grooves of bullets found in the abandoned Monte Carlo were consistent with bullets fired from Deputy Kimery's revolver. He also testified that the .357 round collected at the crime scene was so badly damaged that it was not possible to determine whether or not it had been fired from the revolver that Van Dyken carried.

Van Dyken in his sworn testimony, admitted to being stopped by a law enforcement officer and firing a round from a revolver at the officer, and that after he left the scene of the shooting there were holes in the rear window of the car he was driving. 

Van Dyken's website also states:

"Very recent independent reviews have revealed that the FBI lied in their examinations of bullet lead analysis. In the case against Long Soldier the FBI testified that bullets and bullet fragments taken from Long Soldier match identically to other bullets found in the officer’s ‘speed loader’ and random bullets taken from a box of bullets. The expert testimony by the FBI was fraud, fabricated and mislead the jury."

Newspaper reports relate that Special Agent Don Havekost from the FBI Laboratory testified that the lead in bullets found in the abandoned Monte Carlo and a fragment taken from Van Dyken's shoulder wound were chemically indistinguishable from samples taken from bullets in one of Deputy Kimery's speed loaders and random bullets from a box of Kimery's bullets, but that he had no way of establishing for certain that the bullets came from the same manufacturer.

There is no fraud or fabrication in the agent's testimony. 

Once again - Van Dyken admits to being stopped by a law enforcement officer and firing a bullet from a revolver at the officer. But here he seems to be saying that the bullet fragments collected from the crime scene and his shoulder wound are not consistent with samples taken from Sgt. Kimery's speed loader and box of ammunition?  If so, where does he think they came from?  

Montana State Pathologist's Testimony

Van Dyken complains that the pathologist described the manner of death as "homicide." 

In all cases the manner of death is described as natural, accidental, suicide, homicide or undetermined. There is no doubt that the manner of death in this case is homicide. Even if it had been self defense (and it was not self defense), the manner of death would still be classified as homicide.

"Homicide occurs when death results from a volitional act committed by another  person to cause fear, harm or death. Intent to cause death is a common element but is not required for classification as homicide. It is to be emphasized that the classification of homicide for the purpose of death certification is a "neutral" term and neither indicates nor implies criminal intent, which remains a determination within the province of legal processes.1"


Van Dyken, on the page of his website titled "New Evidence" states:

"the Montana state pathologist testified well outside his expertise, concluding that it was procedural to literally drag a wounded law enforcement officer from the crime scene, wrestle and maneuver him into the backseat of a patrol car. Left unattended and then drove to a hospital miles and miles away. Procedure and protocol dictate that emergency services should have been contacted. An ambulance, paramedics would have been able to take care of any trauma victim. In testimony the fallen officer was alive when discovered. Any chance of survival would depend on emergency response teams."

The scene of the shooting was only 61/2 blocks (a half mile)  from the St. Patrick's Hospital. (See photo below.)  Burton Street runs along the grass area at the far edge of the parking lot. The red car is on West Broadway.   (A map of the area is here.)

Sergeant Kimery had been shot through his heart with a large caliber handgun round and was bleeding internally and externally.

At that time, the local ambulance service dispatched their ambulances from the Community Hospital Campus more than 4 miles away. The ambulances were staffed with Emergency Medical Technicians and were equipped for basic life support (Missoula did not have paramedics until 1989.)

Responding officers knew that Kimery needed medical attention quickly and that it was only six blocks to St. Patrick's Hospital’s 24 hour emergency facility. The first arriving officers (with the help a resident of the area who came out of her home) placed Sgt. Kimery in a patrol car and he was rushed to St. Patrick Hospital, a trip that would have taken about 30-40 seconds.

The photo shows distance to the hospital, the responding officers took Toole / Spruce Street which runs parallel to Broadway directly to the emergency / trauma entrance at the hospital.

In reality Sgt. Kimery would probably have not survived even if the shooting had occurred at the hospital.

Van Dyken’s attempt to place blame for Sergeant Kimery’s death on responding officers is just another example of his callousness and lack of conscience.

BATF (Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms) Ballistic Trajectory Evidence:

Van Dyken Long Soldier's statement: "the ATF did an investigation into bullet trajectories that is very flawed and conducted by personnel that is highly suspect to conduct any investigation. Untrained, uneducated people are giving expert testimony based only on their own opinion."

The expert witness is one who by special study, practice and experience, has acquired special skills and knowledge in relation to some particular science, art or trade. Qualifying as an expert involves an examination of the individual's academic credentials and the duties connected with his or her career, past and present.

The main reason for expert testimony is to interpret difficult to comprehend facts to the jury. The expert witness is usually asked to evaluate the evidence and explain its significance to the case being tried. The expert witness is allowed to give opinions and to explain the certain conditions or findings on which his or her conclusions are based.

Van Dyken's description of the BATF expert witness as "untrained, uneducated people" is laughable. 

Van Dyken Long Soldier's claim of a massive conspiracy against him by everyone involved in the case is just not credible and neither is his statement that there is any evidence that he acted in self defense.


Notes:   1 A Guide for Manner of Death Classification, National Association of Medical Examiners, 2002

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