2.1 Eyewitness Misidentifications

In the opening episode of season two of Bow to Fate we are going to talk about how eyewitness testimony can contribute to wrongful convictions. We are going to discuss four separate cases of eyewitness misidentification and how our memory is not always as reliable as we might think. If you enjoy this episode please visit our website bowtofate.com to stay up to date with current events and episodes.

SCRIPT:

Hello and thanks for listening to Bow to Fate- a podcast focusing on true crime with an emphasis on the flaws in our justice system. Thank you for joining me today for our first episode of season two of Bow to Fate and welcome everyone to 2021, let’s hope this year goes a little better than last year did. Today we are going to review four separate cases of eyewitness misidentification throughout history. Our justice system was built on eyewitness identifications, before forensic evidence became available we relied heavily on eyewitness testimony, and it is still an important tool today. It used to be considered the most reliable element in a conviction, but now it is the number one contributing factor of wrongful convictions.

The problems with eyewitness identifications really came to pass with the growth of our population, it used to be easy to identify the culprit of a crime simply because everyone knew everyone in their small areas. As the population grew, more and more people immigrated into cities and townships it became more difficult to know all your neighbors. With the ease of transportation and travel, the faces you crossed on the street became strangers. It was at this point that we started to recognize the pitfalls of eyewitness testimony. The innocence project notes that eyewitness misidentification is the single largest cause of wrongful convictions, playing a role in 75% of the cases that are later overturned by DNA. This episode we are going to talk about some of those cases of misidentifications that couldn’t rely on DNA.

On February 14th, 1922, Henry Adams and Emory McCreight, two police officers, were patrolling one of the shadier areas of Wilmington, Ohio when they happened upon two men in an alley behind the hardware store. When Officer Adams called out to the men, they responded that they were searching for their dog. Adams flashed his light in the face of one of the men and gunshots rang out.

The two men were able to escape into a nearby automobile, both Officer Adams and McCreight were wounded by the barrage of gunfire. Officer Emory McCreight did not survive his injuries, leaving Henry Adams as the lone eyewitness to the murder.

It was later discovered that the two shadowy figures that Officer McCreight and Adams saw down the alley were actually cutting through the door of the hardware store in an attempt to rob it. Officer Adams told his compatriots that he only got a good look at one of the men, the one he flashed his light on. The man was well built and had heavy eyebrows. He wore a short khaki coat lined with sheepskin and a toboggan hat. In 1922 these coats were popular among young men attending college.

The police started a massive search for any person owning the jacket or hat that Officer Adams described. They interviewed every owner. On February 24th a local farm hand named Charles Smalley rang Officer Adams at his home and asked him for a description of the men he saw. He told a story of driving down the road in the early morning hours of February 15th when he came upon two men in a Ford Coupe. The car had a flat tire and the men were stranded on the side of the road. Smalley claimed the men attempted to get a tire from him, but he did not have a spare. Charles Smalley told Officer Adams that the men were hauling several gallons of whiskey and he enjoyed a drink with them. After a brief search for the men, Smalley finally told police their names, Clarence McKinney and Jim Bill Reno of Cincinnati.

With the help of the Cincinnati police department both Clarence McKinney and Jim Bill Reno were arrested later that same week. They were housed in the Clinton County Jail where they stood for multiple line ups. Two additional men, Ralph Moon and LO Carpenter identified both McKinney and Reno as being the men they saw in the Drug store in Wilmington on the night of the murder. Officer Adams, unable to initially identify the men, came to jail late one night. His comrades had arranged for a special meeting. They had placed a sheepskin coat and toboggan hat on Clarence McKinney and turned off all the lights in the jail. Officer Adams then came in and flashed a light in McKinney’s face. From this moment on Officer Henry Adams was certain of his identification.

I’m going to play a clip from a TED Talk by Elizabeth Loftus, where she talks about how stress or misinformation can contaminate our memories

1. TED- Elizabeth Loftus- How reliable is your memory

When the coat and hat was placed on Clarence McKinney in that jail cell for Henry Adams to shine a light on him, his brain may have tricked him into believing from that point forward that Clarence McKinney truly was the man he saw on the night his friend and colleague was murdered. Officer Adams was not malicious in his identification, he was a victim of his own skewed memory.

On February 20th, 1922 the prosecutor had McKinney and Reno indicted on charges of illegally transporting liquor in Clinton County. The thought was that if they convicted the two men on the liquor charge, information regarding the murder may be brought to the surface. Ultimately the strategy failed, despite both being convicted of the charges neither admitted any guilt in the murder or robbery in Willmington, Ohio.

Ohio law stated that the two men must be tried separately for murder, so six months after the murder, on August 20th, 1922 the trial of Clarence Leroy McKinney began. Judge Frank M Clevenger of Clinton County heard the case that lasted just over a week.

Prosecutor S.L. Gregory’s case against McKinney relied heavily on the eyewitness testimony of Officer Henry Adams. After the identification at the jail, he had never wavered on the fact that Clarence McKinney was one of the men that shot at him and his partner in the alley on Valentine’ Day night 1922. The prosecutor also called on their other witnesses as well, all of which confirmed that both McKinney and Jim Reno were in fact in Wilmington, Ohio on the night of the murder.

McKinney’s defense team called over fifteen witnesses from Cincinnati stating that on the night of the murder Clarence McKinney was with his wife at a movie theater, upon cross examination the Prosecutor pointed out that all the witnesses could remember the night of the 14th with definite clarity, but could remember little else about the past events. McKinney’s friends and family testified that McKinney and Jim Reno were in the dairy business. They would buy eggs and dairy from farmers around Ohio and retail those in Cincinnati, but when Clarence McKinney took the stand in his own defense, he was forced to admit his prior conviction for selling liquor. These lies left a bad taste in the jury’s mouth and when they retired to deliberations, they felt that neither McKinney nor any of his alibi witnesses were reliable.

The jury convicted Clarence Leroy McKinney of the first-degree murder officer Emory McCreight, but recommended mercy for sentencing. He was sentenced to life in prison, rather than given the death penalty. His purported co-conspirator, Jim Reno, was not immediately charged with the murder. He would remain in prison on the liquor charge, while awaiting the murder charge to come down the line.

A few months later several young men reported a strange story to the sheriff in Clinton County. The sheriff learned that Louis Vandervoort, a 19 year old son of a wealthy Jamestown, Ohio family, was bragging to his friends that he had killed Officer McCreight and gotten away with it. The young men told the sheriff that they did not believe Vandervoort as he was known to embellish the truth, but they thought it prudent to report it anyways. The Sheriff, not really believing the story either, thought that he would have Vandervoort brought in for questioning and scare the young man straight, maybe teach him a valuable lesson.

When the Sheriff began the questioning Louis he freely confessed to the murder and on top of that admitted to several other robberies in Clinton and neighboring, Greene County. He even went so far as to tell the Sheriff where he had stashed the stolen goods. Frankly, the sheriff thought that Louis Vandervoort was full of shit and looking for attention, but he had a duty to check out his claims. He was shocked to find the stash of stolen goods exactly where Louis said it would be, he returned to the questioning and corroborated more of the information Vandervoort was claiming and finally Louis Vandervoort named his accomplice in the murder of Emory McCreight, Walter Bingham. Deputies immediately arrested 19 year old Walter Bingham and he promptly confessed as well. On February 14th, 1923 on the one year anniversary of the murder, Louis Vandervoort and Walter Bingham were indicted for the murder of Officer Emory McCreight.

A few days later in a courtroom in Wilmington, Ohio Judge Clevenger ordered the release of Clarence McKinney. In light of the circumstances, both McKinney’s and Jim Reno’s fines in the illicit liquor sales charges were suspended as a sort of restitution. Clarence McKinney had served five months of what would have been a life sentence if Louis Vandervoort had not confessed.

The identification of Clarence McKinney and the circumstances surrounding it should not have happened. The prosecution and Henry Adams’ fellow officers provoked a false memory, by placing McKinney in a khaki coat and hat. They unintentionally swayed the memory of Officer Adams, by trying to recreate the night of the murder. This was not a malicious act, but rather an uninformed one. Judge Clevenger later remarked on McKinney’s wrongful conviction stating that “It is unfortunate, but when such cases happen it is not the fault of our laws, but a trick of fate that cannot be forestalled.”

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Around 9pm on September 6th, 1927, Floyd and Orville Stotler were wrapping up their work at the Harts Oil Station. Orville had just gotten the first opportunity of the day to sit down and rest when two masked bandits ran into the station. Orville watched in terror as his son Floyd confronted the bandits telling them to stop joking around and get out of there. Floyd reached for one of the bandits’ guns and a shot was fired. The bandits fled and Floyd fell to the floor, blood streaming from his chest.

Orville called for help and the Rockford, Illinois police department responded to the scene. Floyd was rushed to the local hospital, where he underwent an emergency surgery, but he did not survive. Orville was now the sole witness to the murder of his son.

Rockford police collected what evidence they could. The hospital provided the .22 caliber bullet that had killed Floyd and the bandits had fled on foot leaving their Chrysler Roadster behind. The Roadster was found to be stolen in Rockford so that provided little assistance. Orville had provided law enforcement with a general description, however it was limited because the bandits were masked. He could describe only their general body type and their eyes.

Rockford police felt that Orville’s general description matched that of a young mechanic who lived just a block from the oil station. Henry Olson was no stranger to law enforcement, and they did not hold him in high regard. They went to his home the night of the murder and asked questions of his whereabouts and spoke to his neighbors and family members.

Henry Olson seemed to have a solid alibi for the night. He had spent that night at home with his wife. Neighbors had seen him around 6 o’clock that night watering his lawn, his mother, father and brother attested to the fact that he was home all night. For the time being law enforcement seemed satisfied.

Orville Stotler had been through an incredibly traumatic event. He had been held up at gunpoint and in the midst of the crime he lost his son. No one could imagine what he was going through. With little else to go on, police were dependent on Orville to identify his son’s murderer. Police rounded up the usual suspects, and prepared for a line-up. Although they seemed satisfied by Olson’s alibi they decided to include him in the line-up

Here is a clip of an interview by 60 minutes with Gary Wells, a psychologist, discussing line-ups.

2. 60 minutes- How Accurate is your Visual Memory- Not in the line up

Psychologically, if we are shown 6 people and asked to pick the person that was there, we immediately go to the fact that the suspect is in that line-up, but maybe they are not. When given 6 choices, people do not often realize that there are really 7 choices before you, just because they are showing you a line-up does not mean that you have to pick someone. In this case there is the added stress that weapons were involved. Naturally people tend to focus on the thing that can do the most harm, which is the gun, not a masked intruder’s face or build. Add in the stress that your son is in immediate danger and that creates a very dangerous combination.

When Orville was shown a line-up, he immediately identified Henry Olson as the bandit who shot his son. Despite wearing a mask, Orville stated that he was able to identify Olson by his high cheekbones and general build. On October 7th, 1927 Henry Olson was indicted for the murder of Floyd Stotler. The only evidence connecting him to the crime was Orville Stotler’s testimony.

The trial for Henry Olson commenced on October 24th, 1927. The newspapers had sensationalized the crime, by the time Henry entered the courtroom the entire community thought that he was guilty. Henry had drawn Harry North as a defense attorney. Going through the case, North became convinced of his client’s innocence. He vigorously defended Olson. Because Orville Stotler was the only person tying Henry to the crime, North kept him on the stand for two days, questioning the reliability of his identification.

North also called a slew of alibi witnesses for Olson. By the time the jury received the case for deliberations there was more than a little reasonable doubt to be found. The day after the jury received the case they reported to the judge that they were deadlocked and could not reach a verdict. The judge had no choice but to dismiss the jury. Henry was released on bond while he awaited a new trial which was set for February 13th, 1982. Using the exact same evidence and witnesses the second jury found Henry Olson guilty of murder and sentenced him to life.

Harry North immediately appealed the verdict and made a motion for a new trial. Apparently the judge felt so strongly that North would win his client the request for a new trial, that he allowed Henry Olson to remain out on bail until the decision was made. Henry Olson took this unique opportunity to skip town with his wife.

They drove their car to Chicago and sent word to their family to come pick up the car. They simply disappeared after that. A massive effort was made to find Henry Olson and his young wife, but they were never located. The community was sure of Olson’s guilt now and there were even rumors circulating that his wife was in fact that second bandit. Harry North refused to believe his client was guilty. He continued to investigate the case in order to prove Henry Olson’s innocence.

One day by chance a man mentioned to Harry North that one of his maids had made the comment that Henry Olson was innocent. When police followed up on the lead, the maid denied making the statements, but upon further questioning she admitted that her eighteen year old boyfriend, Maurice Mahan had bragged that he and a friend, George Bliss, had robbed the oil station and Bliss had done the shooting.

The two men were arrested and promptly confessed to the crime. They both entered pleas of guilty. Bliss was sentenced to 35 years and Mahan received 14 years for their parts in Floyd Stotler’s murder.

The city of Rockford made every effort to notify Henry Olson of his change of fate. After some time Harry North received a letter from Henry. Olson was in New Orleans and had heard the news, he wanted to know if it was true. Harry North assured his client that the nightmare was over and the true culprits had been apprehended. Upon his return to Rockford, Henry Olson was given a third trial and acquitted of any charges on March 16th, 1928.

The state of Illinois refused to compensate Henry Olson for the wrongful conviction, so to show his gratitude to his lawyer, Henry Olson sued him for negligence and unbelievably won. Harry North had continued to investigate the crime even after his client fled, so I’m at a loss to explain how a jury could find him the least bit negligent.

In the minds of the jury, Orville Stotler’s identification held more weight than that of the alibi witnesses for Henry Olson. It is possible that the jurors could see Stotler’s pain and did not want to add to it. Orville Stotler wanted justice for his son, Henry Olson already held a bad reputation with law enforcement and after he ran the community felt that he was guilty. Olson did not help himself at all in his trials, but just because someone is an ass doesn’t mean they are guilty.

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Around 10 p.m. on November 1st, 1927, Roberta Schriver stopped in to make a purchase at the local drug store in Los Angeles, CA. Curious to find the counter unattended, she called out several times for help. Eventually, A. H. Miles, the father of the owner, answered her calls, he was equally surprised that no one was watching the store. Upon investigating, he discovered his son, A. R. Miles, in the back room of the store. He was unconscious and bleeding from severe head wounds. The older Miles tried to render aid to his son, but his efforts were fruitless. A.R. Miles died that same night.

The police took statements from eyewitnesses at the drugstore. A. H. Miles told police that his son’s hands and feet had been bound with wire and that thirty-six dollars had been taken from the cash register. Roberta Scriver reported seeing a person come out of the store in a jog and get into the rear seat of a Hudson sedan, in which two other men were waiting.

Ten-year-old Eddie Yates was passing the store on his way home from a movie when he saw a Hudson sedan drive up. Eddie told police that he had watched three men get out of the car and go into the store. Watching through the store window, Eddie saw one of the men ask the victim for a free cigar. When the Mr. Miles refused and went into a room at the back of the store, the three men followed him. About five minutes later the men came out in a hurry, got into their car, and drove away.

The medical examiner reviewed Miles’ body and found that his injuries could have been caused by blunt force trauma or potentially from a fall off the ladder in the backroom of the store. Not having a lot to go on, the police began searching for three men driving a Hudson sedan. Eddie Yates was fairly certain that he could identify the three men if he saw them again, so police started to bring Eddie in for line-ups.

Lets take a break here and learn about a study conducted by Dr. Steven Ceci at Cornell University called the mousetrap study. The goal was to find out how malleable children were as witnesses.

3. Truth and Consequences- Psychologist Stephen Ceci- Mousetrap study

Sure enough after the 4th line-up, 10 year old Eddie Yates identified three suspects, Harvey Lesher, Mike Garvey, and Phil Rohan. All three denied any knowledge of the supposed crime, however Eddie Yates was certain of his identification.

With only the identification of a small child, the District Attorney was struggling with the idea of taking the case to trial. Enter, Howard C Walton a bootlegger with a vendetta. Lesher and Garvey were rumored to have threatened to shake down Howard Walton, but they never got the chance. Walton told police that on November 8th, just over a week after A.R. Miles met his tragic end, Walton had Harvey Lesher, Mike Garvey, and Phil Rohan over to his home for drinks. The men became so intoxicated that Harvey Lesher needed to be carried to bed. It was at this time, alone in a bedroom with Howard Walton that Harvey Lesher supposedly confessed to the crime and named his friends as his co-conspirators.

With the new testimony from Howard Walton, the District Attorney in Los Angeles decided to present the case to a grand jury on December 20th, 1927. They returned an indictment for the three men and on January 9th, 1928 the case was taken to trial. Lesher, Garvey, and Rohan all testified on their own behalf. They stated that the three were in fact together on November 1st, 1927, but they were no where near the drug store. They claimed to have been at Harvey Lesher’s home three miles from the scene of the crime and brought forth alibi witnesses to confirm their whereabouts.

The jury was left to decide who they believed more, there was no evidence and the police had never located the Hudson Sedan. They weighed the testimony of young Eddie Yates and Howard Walton against that of the defendants and their family and friends. On February 11th, 1928 they returned a guilty verdict for all three men. They were each sentenced to life sentences in San Quentin Penitentiary.

At this stage Harvey Lesher, Mike Garvey, and Phil Rohan were assigned a father son lawyer team to handle their appeals. Both father and son were named William T Kendrick. They believed wholeheartedly in their clients innocence and would fight tirelessly to prove it. Their efforts sparked the interest of the District Attorney’s office and they also began to reinvestigate the case.

It was not long before a slew of new evidence was found. Howard Walton recanted his testimony and admitted to the court that he had lied in an effort to take Harvey Lesher out of the picture. They also found that Eddie Yates did not arrive at the scene until well after the ambulance had. Everyone started to believe that after watching the movie and seeing the commotion at the store, Eddie Yates had created a story that had drawn more attention to him. Even his father wrote a letter to the governor asking that he pardon the men involved believing his son had made up the entire story about seeing three men fleeing the drug store in a Hudson sedan. To top it off, they submitted even more evidence to show that the drug store had not actually been robbed and that A.R. Miles was not bound by the hands and feet when he was found by his father. This entire murder was looking more and more like and accident, where Miles had actually just fallen off a ladder as the ME had originally surmised.

After hearing all the new evidence Governor Young of California decided that Havey Lesher, Mike Garvey, and Phil Rohan were completely innocent and issued each a full pardon on June 20th, 1930. They had spent two and a half years in prison for a murder that actually was not a murder at all.

Adults and children imprint memories very differently based on their past knowledge. When dealing with children eyewitnesses it becomes even more important not to lead them in any direction or another. Simply by the questions investigators ask or how they are asked a child’s memory can be swayed. Once that memory has been made, it cannot be undone. In this case a child had gone to a movie and then walked straight into crime scene. It is surprising easy to create a false memory. Children sometimes wind up trying to provide you with what they think you want them to say especially when the adult is an authority figure. Dr. Steven Ceci commented on this once in an interview saying, “If you have a man in a police uniform interviewing children, and then a man in a janitor’s uniform interviewing children, the person in a janitor’s uniform will have higher accuracy. ”

Early on the morning of January 7th, 1929 Deputy Sheriff JW Dugan was awakened by a phone call at his home near St. Louis, Missouri. On the line was Virgil Romine at that Artesian Park Filling Station he was groaning in pain, he told the Sheriff that he had been shot and begged him to get to the Station quickly. Sheriff Dugan contacted the county doctor and the Station owner and asked them to meet him at the scene.

When they arrived at the Artesian Park Filling Station, Virgil Romine was sitting in a chair inside the attached restaurant, he was in a substantial amount of pain and was bleeding profusely from a stomach wound. The filling station was in tatters indicating a violent struggle had taken place there. While the doctor tried to attend to Virgil, he gave instructions to the Station owner to deliver his property to his mother and wrote a check to her for $700, everything he had in his account. Virgil Romine knew that he was not going to survive his wounds.

Sheriff Dugan questioned Virgil while the doctor worked. Virgil told him that three or four men and a woman all dressed in overalls had come in and ordered a hamburger. As he went to the back to make the food, Virgil reported that one of the men in the group followed him to the back, as they reached the kitchen the man had pulled out a gun and shot Virgil in the stomach. Virgil said that at this time he had gotten his own gun and fought off the group, he thought that he may have wounded one of them. He also said that he could identify the men, as he had had trouble with them a few weeks back. He told the sheriff that the men who shot him were the same men that he had run off after hitting the slot machine to get quarters out. When they ran away they left their car and Virgil made them settle the debt with the owner of the station before he would return their vehicle.

Lets listen to Jennifer Dysart from the Innocence Project talk about eyewitness identifications

4. Innocence Project- Jennifer Dysart- Memory Skewed

In this particular instance, Virgil was in an incredibly stressful situation, he was fighting for his life, and his mind pulled from other stressful situations. He immediately tied his memories to another slightly different memory that happened not that long ago in the same filling station.

The owner had remembered the two men and told the Sheriff that they had come to him and admitted to stealing from the slot machine. They paid him the 75 cents they took and he gave them a note to get their car back from Virgil or whomever was watching the station at the time. He also told the Sheriff that the boys were usually seen around Mrs. Vineyard’s home. While the Sheriff went to find the boys an ambulance had arrived to take Virgil Romine to the hospital. His wounds proved fatal, he passed away a few hours after arriving at the hospital.

When the Sheriff arrived at the Vineyard home, Mrs. Vineyard told him that the boys he was looking for were in fact at the house. They had spent the night with her son Jimmie, but she swore that no one had left the house during the night, so they could not have shot Virgil at the station.

The boys, Alvin Craig and Walter Hess were awakened by the Sheriff for questioning. They told Dugan that they had left Crystal City late in the afternoon and arrived at the Vineyard home at around 6pm to visit their friend Jimmie Vineyard. The three boys had played cards and then retired to bed, none had left the house. When questioned about the slot machine, both admitted that they had hit the slot machine in order to get a few quarters, but they made things right with the owner. Upon hearing this the Sheriff placed them both under arrest as Virgil was certain that the men who shot him were the same that robbed the slot machine.

The next morning about a mile from the Filling Station a road crew found the burned remains of overalls and a blue shirt with blood on it with a bullet hole in the arm, seeming to indicate that one of Virgil’s bullets had landed. Two men came forward as witnesses stating that at approximately 1am the day of the murder they were leaving the Artesian Restaurant just as three men and a woman dressed as a man in overalls entered the restaurant and ordered food. They described one older heavyset man and two younger men very skinny. When shown pictures of Walter Hess and Alvin Craig neither of the men identified them as part of the group they saw enter the Artesian Restaurant.

Having only the deathbed identification of Virgil Romine the District Attorney charged both Walter Hess and Alvin Craig with first degree murder. They went to trial on April 18th, 1929. Their attorney argued against allowing the doctor and sheriff to recount Virgil’s last words to the jury on the basis of hearsay, but the judge allowed the testimony in as a deathbed declaration.

This was the only evidence the prosecution presented at trial. The defense called alibi witnesses and showed the jury the bloody clothing, surmising that the true culprits must have had injuries and both Hess and Craig had none. Both defendants also testified on their own behalves, but to no avail. On June 10th, 1929 the jury sentenced them both to charges of second degree murder and gave them each a sentence of 10 years.

This could have been the end of the story for Walter Hess and Alvin Craig had Louis Taylor not cheated on his girlfriend Mamie Woolem. In December of 1929, Mamie Woolem walked into the St. Louis Police department and stated that she and her former lover, Louis Taylor along with two of his friends, Radford Browning and Joe Muehlman had gone to the Artesian Filling Station in the early morning hours of January 6th, 1929. Mamie claimed that her former lover, Louis Taylor had attempted to rob the station and in the process had shot the clerk, Virgil Romine, in the stomach.

The three men were arrested and questioned. Taylor vehemently denied any knowledge of the crime, however police made him put on the blue blood stained shirt found near the crime scene. Peering through the hole in the arm of the shirt, police could see a scar from a bullet wound on Taylor’s arm. He confessed to the murder that same day. His cohorts also confessed and despite claiming she had no knowledge of the robbery beforehand. All three men pointed to Mamie Woolem as the planner of the entire ordeal. All turned state’s witness against her and she was sentenced to life in prison for first degree murder. Taylor also received a life sentence. Browning and Muehlman were each given 10 years.

Alvin Craig and Walter Hess were each issued a full pardon for their charges. Neither Alvin Craig nor Walter Hess even remotely looked like any of the men truly guilty of the crime. It cannot be said why Virgil Romine would have assumed that they were the men who shot him on the morning of January 6th, 1929, but the mind is a fickle bitch. In a stressful situation, the mind will protect itself and can make you believe one thing or pull memories from your past experiences, this may have been the case when Virgil Romine told the Sheriff who shot him.

The American Psychological Association is working to identify and deal with the problems with eyewitness testimony, Norman B. Anderson spoke on the topic and how it is currently impacting our criminal justice system.

5. American Psychological Association- Norman B Anderson- Eyewitness testimony

All of these cases of eyewitness misidentifications happened nearly 100 years ago, yet they are all still relevant to the difficulties today in our justice system. Over 75% of the cases of wrongful convictions overturned by DNA had an eyewitness misidentification in them. We need to better understand how our memory works before relying so heavily on eyewitness statements to solve crimes. We know that eyewitness testimony is an integral part of the investigative process, however if these cases have taught us anything is that we must corroborate that with other evidence. Trust but verify.

I want you to listen to one more clip from Dr. Steven Cecil from the show Truth and Consequences.

6. Truth and Consequences- Psychologist Stephen Ceci- Win truth be damned

We should be cognizant of our competitive natures and take a step back and remember that justice is about just that Justice for the victims and they deserve to have the right person convicted. We should not be so focused on winning that we ruin the wrong person’s life, thereby creating more victims. On a lighter note, researching the science behind false memories and eyewitness misidentifications has really made me think that the Matrix might just be real, so do yourselves a favor and watch a few Ted Talks on memory and drop me a note on what you think.

I appreciate you taking the time to listen to our opening episode of season two, I really hope that you enjoyed it. If you haven’t visited our website you can find us at bowtofate.com, where you can find the transcripts for this episode or donate to keep us up and running. I want to thank DJ Brooks for providing the show with music and artwork, I love you honey. Don’t forget to like us on Facebook or send a tweet to @Bowtofatepod and if you get a chance please subscribe to our podcast to stay up to date with current episodes. Feel free to send us an email at bowtofate@gmail.com with your suggestions for upcoming episodes or call and leave a voicemail at 725-222-FATE, you may just end up on the podcast. Till next time, stay safe and keep listening.