The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not represent our advertisers

Monday, February 13, 2012

Witness Error: How Mind Tricks Can Put The Innocent Behind Bars

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 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.”


Publishers Notes: I watched this show last night and was amazed of how this innocent man is behind bars on such bs evidence. The worst part was the ending of the show as it gave no conclusion. My biggest problem is, those people who cannot afford a quality lawyer to defend them. Now I'm NOT suggesting that ALL do not get good lawyers because quite frankly Thomas Leggs had some of the best attorneys money can buy. It's just unfortunate that a white man can get three law firms to defend him but in this case a black man was not afforded the same kind of representation and is still sitting in jail today. Even the District Attorney stated, 12 jurors convicted him and the odds of his going free is an uphill battle and probably won't get overturned.


Anonymous said...

I read this story also and other ones like it. Witnesses recant their testimony, misconduct by prosecutors and police, rigged line-ups.

The lucky ones who have DNA to help clear them. When there is no DNA to prove their innocence it is an uphill battle.

Then it is literally guilty until proven innocent.

Anonymous said...

Eyewitness testimony is often the least reliable.

Anonymous said...

Jon-Adrian Velazquez is living a nightmare. I can't imagine getting arrested, sitting in jail for 1 year before trial, go to trial, only to be found guilty and sentenced to a 25 to live. All while knowing you are completely innocent. The judicial system in the U.S. is a nightmare. There are far too many innocent people in jail. This is why I don't believe in the death penalty. I don't believe the U.S. government has a judicial system in place to execute the right people. My heart bleeds for Jon-Adrian Velazquez. I hope he gets out soon.