Details Of Controversial Photo Lineup Revealed
DURHAM, N.C. -- A photo identification report released Friday could blow a hole in the prosecution’s case in the Duke lacrosse rape investigation. Defense attorneys question whether the police were biased in their presentation.
When an exotic dancer told police she was raped inside a Durham house last month by three lacrosse players, Police collected DNA samples from 46 teammates and took their pictures. The tests came back with no match between the accuser and the players. Shortly afterward, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligman were arrested in the case.
According to the identification report, the accuser picked the two players from a photo lineup on April 4, three weeks after the incident. WRAL has learned police only used mugshot pictures of the 46 players for the lineup.
Attorney Mark Edwards, who is not involved with the case, said that procedure is like leading the witness.
“I can't believe they didn't put in some other photos,” said Edwards. “She's going to know that this is the group of people from which I'm to choose someone.”
Edwards said it appears police went against standard operating procedures when it comes to photo lineups. Based on state guidelines, investigators should use a picture of the suspect and at least seven pictures of people who look like the suspect.
“That's surely going to be suspect,” said UNC professor Arnold Loewy.
Loewy recently wrote an editorial dubbed “Wrongful Convictions, Unpopularity and the Duke Lacrosse Case.” He said the unusual police procedure with the lineup could weaken the prosecution’s case.
“First, it crosses racial identification, which tends to lead to known improper guilty verdicts in the past,” he said. “Second, it was a case of somebody who apparently couldn't identify the perpetrators initially.”
Defense attorneys for Finnerty and Seligman say they have evidence that will show their clients were not at the party at the time the accuser says the rape happened. The two players are due back in court the week of May 15.
What in the fucking world was the DA thinking? Is he a fucking moron? NO ONE does a lineup in this fashion unless they want to have the evidence thrown out. If you only show someone pictures of individuals that were at the event supposedly, you raise the liklihood of false positives through the roof. This is so incredibly incompetant that I'm almost bracing myself for the first person to say that the DA is acutally a double agent. That he's been payed off or for some reason actually supports the players in this. They'll say that he's a plant and his goal from the beginning was to sabatoge the case. Only idiots will believe it, but they'll have this and other evidence showing that the DA is at the very least completely incompetant.
1) Making the identification _3_ weeks after the fact is just beyond stupid. There's absolutely no excuse for this...none. The only thing I'm curious about now is if they showed her the photo lineup earlier but she claimed she couldn't id anyone at that point, and then after 3 weeks had passed, picked up the two people charged.
2) Including only lacrosse players is also beyond stupid. She likely saw a whole bunch of these people at the party and will fixate on those she recognizes in that context. It's human nature and pattern recognition. There have been whole volumes written on eyewitness identification and the problems raised when individuals in the lineup are those they have seen before in any setting who may not be involved. Add to that the state of intoxication that's been reported by both the defense and 2nd stripper and you've got a major problem.
2a) Caveat. If the police already knew who they suspected (ie. if the DNA had come back positive) including the other players in a lineup would have bolstered their case because they could argue that despite the studies showing people tend to pick people they've seen before even if they don't know exactly from where, she still picked out the 'right man'. Basing the entire case and who to charge ON the id in this case is just stupid beyond belief.
3) Without other people in the lineup, you have no way to judge how accurate her identification is. If she had picked out Officer Murry's picture for instance, you could be fairly sure that there was no way to depend upon a positive ID to find a suspect. In this case where all the evidence fits 46 people equally and then you include only those 46 into a lineup....you're just asking for error.
I've seen a lot of legal experts weigh in before this information was made public about the hypothetical means by which the lineup was conducted and I didn't see a single person who didn't say that it would be a disaster for the DA if it was done in this fashion. None. This didn't matter if they were generally pro-prosecution in this case or pro-defense. They all agreed that this would throw the witness ID into tremendous doubt and sow horrible problems. WTF? So what was the DA thinking?!