Open Channel – Witness error: How mind tricks can put the innocent behind bars

Posted: February 19, 2012 by scaryhouse in Uncategorized

By Miranda Leitsinger

Dorothy Canady said she would never forget the man who shot a retired New York City police officer, but at trial she identified Juror No. 6 as the assailant. Another witness to the crime said the attacker was a black man with braids, yet he picked an Hispanic man with short hair out of a photo lineup.

Though the jury laughed when Canady fingered one of their own, and despite other discrepancies among the accounts of other witnesses to the fatal shooting in a Harlem numbers (illegal gambling) parlor in 1998, Jon-Adrian Velazquez was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. Today, he is fighting to clear his name from a cell in New York’s infamous “Sing Sing.”

“The eyewitness misidentification is the central and critical reason for his wrongful conviction,” said Velazquez’s attorney Robert Gottlieb, formerly an assistant district attorney in Manhattan. “There is no other evidence in this case that could possibly be the basis for a guilty verdict other than the eyewitness identifications that were false. Unfortunately this story is not … so unique.”

While hundreds of convicts have been freed from prison after being exonerated by DNA evidence in recent decades, many others who proclaim their innocence from behind bars don’t have that recourse because no such evidence exists. In many instances, their efforts to gain freedom boil down to their words against those of witnesses to the crimes they allegedly committed.

via Open Channel – Witness error: How mind tricks can put the innocent behind bars.

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