Our views: What price justice? (July 7) | FLORIDA TODAY | floridatoday.com

Posted: July 12, 2011 by scaryhouse in Uncategorized

Eyewitness testimony in criminal investigations is notoriously unreliable — and can lead to injustice.

Look no further than the role erroneous eyewitness testimony played in the wrongful conviction of former Satellite Beach resident William Dillon for the 1981 murder of James Dvorak in Indian Harbour Beach.

At trial, witness John Parker identified Dillon as the hitchhiker he picked up near the Canova Beach crime scene the morning of the murder wearing a bloody T-shirt linked to the killer.

Last month, the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office identified four new suspects in the brutal slaying for which Dillon spent 27 years behind bars, saying the DNA of suspect James Johnstone was found on the shirt.

Misidentification of a suspect by a witness also helped wrongfully convict Port St. John resident Wilton Dedge of a 1981 rape he didn’t commit. Dedge was incarcerated for 22 years before being exonerated by new DNA testing.

Investigators showed the rape victim a photo of Dedge’s brother before she picked Dedge out of a photo lineup, tainting her testimony.

Then there’s Crosley Green, currently in prison for the 1989 murder of Titusville resident Charles Flynn in a Mims orange grove. Green’s trial lawyer objected to a skewed photo lineup police used to help pin charges on Green. His photo was significantly darker and smaller than the others and was located in the middle of the top row.

Crosley continues to maintain his innocence and is seeking a new trial based on the suggestive photo arrangement, recantation of witness testimony to his guilt and other new information.

Crosley may well be guilty, but his case underscores how something’s rotten in the way eyewitness testimony has been handled in Florida over the past decades. Of the 12 documented cases of wrongful conviction under study by the Florida Innocence Commission, nine involved witness misidentification.

The panel still must look into other factors that contribute to the wrongful convictions, including false confessions and use of jailhouse snitches.

via Our views: What price justice? (July 7) | FLORIDA TODAY | floridatoday.com.

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