Eyewitness Testimony Faulty

By: Mike Vasilinda Email
By: Mike Vasilinda Email

Tallahassee, FL - The Florida Innocence Commission has been told more than 200 inmates in Florida prisons are incarcerated based upon faulty eyewitness testimony. More than two dozen inmates have been freed based on DNA evidence in recent years, but DNA isn’t always available.

Rudolph Holton was released from prison in January 2003 after spending 16 years there based on unreliable eyewitness testimony. On the day he was released he was asked, "Did you ever think this day would come…16 years sitting there?"

His response: “Yes, but I needed the right attorneys”.

In 2006 Alan Crotzer was freed after almost 25 years behind bars. DNA proved he didn’t commit the rapes that sent him to prison. He says his case proves eyewitnesses can be wrong…then added “Especially when its across racial identification involved, you know, if i said that we all look alike but from one race to another, but when you cross racial identification, identifying someone and identification thing, you can be wrong”.

Really Wrong. Evidence shows that 1 in 3 eye witness identifications are just flat out wrong.

At the innocence project, a thousand or more new cases are examined each year. President Mike Minerva is a former public defender who has examined hundreds if not thousands of eyewitnesses “Eye witness identification is really lack of opinion testimony. It’s someone’s perception of what they saw..or what they thought they saw.”

But Minerva says there are ways to improve eyewitness testimony…including not showing the witness a batch of photos at the same time. “Show a witness a group of pictures they are going to try and pick someone out” says Minerva.

Experts suggest there are at least 200 innocents behind bars because of faulty eyewitness identifications.

Experts also recommend police use detectives who are not involved in a case or who do not know who is a suspect when they are showing pictures to a witness. They also suggest showing the pictured one at a time rather than in a group.


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