Thursday, March 23, 2023

Leon Benson: Indianapolis: Flawed inter-racial identification of strangers (and much more) case: Major (Welcome) Development: The Indianapolis Star (Reporter Kristine Phillips) reports that after more than 20 years in prison for murder, he has been exonerated and set free..."Lara Bazelon, an attorney for Benson and director of the Criminal & Juvenile Justice and Racial Justice Clinics at the University of San Francisco School of Law, said the case against him relied on the questionable identification of an eyewitness ― a white woman ― who gave police only vague descriptions of a Black man in dark clothing she saw while standing across the street. "It had all the hallmarks of a case that screams wrongful conviction," Bazelon said. "There was no forensic or physical evidence and it rested almost entirely on the cross-racial identification of a stranger who was standing 150 feet away and peering into the near darkness."

PUBLISHER'S NOTE:This Blog is interested in  false eye-witness identification issues because  wrongful identifications are at the heart of so many DNA-related exonerations in the USA and elsewhere - and because so much scientific research is being conducted with a goal to making the identification process more   transparent and reliable - and less subject to deliberate manipulation.  I have also reported far too many cases over the years - mainly cases lacking DNA evidence (or other forensic evidence pointing to the suspect - where the identification is erroneous - in spite of witness’s certainty that it is true - or where  the police have somehow  rigged the identification process in order to make a desired  identification inevitable. 
Harold Levy: Publisher: The Charles Smith Blog.

PASSAGE OF THE DAY: "Detective admits failure to turn over critical evidence: In May 2022, more than 20 years after Benson was convicted, Jones signed a sworn declaration admitting he did not turn over critical evidence to prosecutors. As a result, none of the evidence pointing to a different suspect was turned over to Benson's attorneys. Benson's attorneys argued that Jones provided prosecutors a "sanitized" version of the investigative documents and treated the newspaper carrier's testimony as the "heart of the case." Her identification of Benson caused Jones to disregard all the other evidence implicating Webster, the attorneys argued. That was problematic, Bazelon said, citing longstanding research that intra-racial identification of strangers is not reliable. "Numerous studies have shown that white people aren't good at identifying Black people and vice versa," Bazelon said. "Most Americans live fairly segregated lives and don't have a lot of exposure to people of other races. ... We are bad at identifying people outside of our own racial group. Period."

STORY:"After more than 20 years in prison, Indianapolis man exonerated in murder and set free," by Reporter Kristine Phillips, published by The Indianapolis Star, on March 9, 2023.