The Murder Of The Oldest Girl Essay

The Murder Of The Oldest Girl Essay

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One October night in 1982, three young girls were sleeping alone in a Shreveport, Louisiana home when a man in cowboy boots broke into the house. He proceeded to rape the oldest girl, who was ten years old at the time, and then fled the scene. When police started to investigate the rape, the three girls all reported remembering the attack, and the attacker, in radically different ways. Crimes reports varied, one report stating that the victim had seen her attacker’s face, one reporting that she hadn’t, and one pronouncing that she had alleged that Calvin Willis, a cognitively impaired African American man who lived in the neighborhood, was the perpetrator despite little evidence and his proclamations of innocence. Willis was convicted by a jury on the basis on eyewitness testimony, and served 22 years in prison before DNA testing proved his innocence.
Just this past September, thirty years after their convictions in the rape and murder of an 11-year old girl in rural North Carolina, based on shaky eye-witness testimony and confessions that they quickly repudiated and said were coerced, two mentally disabled brothers were declared innocent after the case against them fell apart following updated DNA testing. Approximately 75% of people who were falsely convicted and incarcerated, but later proven innocent by DNA evidence, had been identified by one or more eyewitnesses (The Innocence Project, 2012). Eyewitness testimony has been recognized as among the most powerful types of evidence in criminal trials, especially when the eye witness reports being certain about the identification (Bradfield, Wells, & Olson, 2002); nevertheless, the relation between eyewitness accuracy and certainty is found to be negatively affected by many vari...


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...s are more likely less likely to make a positive identification in sequential procedure than in a simultaneous procedure, however the probative value is higher in a sequential procedure, which means it is more trustworthy for the prosecutor, the judge and the jury. (Wells, 2014). The behavior of the administrator conducting the lineup can also influence a witness’s decision, as lineup administrators could inadvertently communicate their knowledge about which lineup member is the suspect and which lineup members are simply fillers, to the witness through various verbal and nonverbal means. Phillips et al. (1999) manipulated lineup administrators’ assumptions about the identity for the culprit and found that this manipulation affected the choices that the eyewitnesses made from the lineup, especially when a sequential lineup procedure was used (Phillips et al. 1999).

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