There are various things that could cause eyewitness testimony in a criminal case to be inaccurate.
One is the eyewitness simply being mistaken in what they saw. Memory can be a tricky thing, and there are various things that could cause a witness to remember events differently than how they actually occurred.
Another is authorities taking action which influenced a witness’ testimony, such as coercive action. Recently, claims of coerced testimony have led to a major development in a murder case from another state (Maine) in which a 44-year-old man has spent 27 years in prison.
The man, when he was in his teens, was accused of murdering his girlfriend. In a 1992 trial in the case, a witness gave testimony that she saw the man stab the victim. The witness was in her teens at the time she testified. She was the case’s only eyewitness.
The trial resulted in the man being convicted as an adult and being given a prison sentence of 70 years.
Recently, the witness recanted her trial testimony. She claims that she gave the testimony she did at the trial because she was coerced by authorities. She claims that authorities pressured her by threatening to go hard on her in connection to juvenile charges she was facing at the time.
In connection to the recanting of the testimony, a judge recently set bail for the man’s release, which has since been posted. It has yet to be decided whether the conviction will be vacated and whether a new trial will be held in the case.
Now, direct coercion is not the only way authorities could end up impacting a witness’ testimony. They could also affect it unintentionally and in more nuanced ways. So, there can be all manner of things it can be important to look at when determining whether an eyewitness’ testimony was contaminated by the actions police or prosecutors.
Given how much eyewitness testimony can impact how a criminal trial ends up going, uncovering whether there are any weaknesses in the eyewitness testimony that is being brought against them can be very important for a person facing serious criminal charges.
Skilled Wisconsin defense attorneys can help defendants in the state with looking into the accuracy and potential weaknesses of the evidence brought against them, including eyewitness testimony.