Last week, the Detroit Free Press published an important editorial concerning the problems with eye witness testimony and the serious flaws that occur that may lead to innocent people being sent to jail for sex crimes and other criminal acts they didn’t commit. As explained by David Moran, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Innocence Clinic, “Of the more than 250 people exonerated by DNA evidence in the last 20 years, 75% had been erroneously identified by eyewitnesses.”
As an example, the article pointed to Ken Wyniemko who spent 14 years in a Macomb County jail for a rape he didn’t commit after the victim identified him in a lineup. Wyniemko was eventually cleared by DNA evidence and a man who looked nothing like Wyniemko was charged. The man implicated by DNA evidence was 17-years-younger, taller and significiantly heavier.
A recent New Jersey Supreme Court Case, State v. Henderson, recognized the dangers of eyewitness testimony as unreliable and often subject to suggestive influences that may alter his of her mental image of the perpetrator to match the defendant. As noted in the editorial, the landmark New Jersey Supreme Court decision states “We are convinced from the scientific evidence in the record that memory is malleable, and that an array of variable can affect and dilute the memory and lead to misidentifications.”
Contacting an experienced Michigan sex crimes defense attorney if you are under investigation for a sex offense is important to protect your rights and begin preparing your defense. Often the criminal investigation, and as the article points out – eye witness testimony – can be seriously flawed and lead to significant injustices. A dedicated Michigan sex crimes defense firm can go to work right away to do what it takes to point out these errors.
Currently Michigan law provides that defense lawyers cannot argue that eyewitness testimony is too unreliable but rather that police used impermissibly suggestive procedures to get the identifications that they need. While in many situations aggressive sex crimes defense attorneys can successfully challenge eyewitness testimony, other times juries may provide too much weight to unreliable eyewitness identifications and send people to jail for rape or other criminal sexual conduct they didn’t commit.
As a Michigan sex crimes defense attorney I agree with the editorial and am hopeful that the Michigan criminal courts follow New Jersey in challenging eyewitness testimony to ensure innocent people are not sent to jail for crimes they didn’t commit.
For more information, or if you are under investigation or have been charged for any sex crimes offense, contact the aggressive Michigan criminal sexual conduct defense firm Grabel & Associates, dedicated to protecting your future and your freedom.