I am in the process of reviewing a case of an individual who has been in prison for over 20 years for a crime he was convicted of committing in Philadelphia. This individual has claimed his innocence throughout the process. His conviction was based off of an anonymous tip that was never traced and two eyewitnesses with inconsistent testimony. The witnesses identified the defendant in a suggestive photo array where the defendant’s photo was noticeably different from the other individuals. Throughout the witnesses testimony there were numerous inconsistencies in their statements. Furthermore, one of the witnesses admitted that they were given money by the police in exchange for their testimony and one was never punished for outstanding warrants.
One of the eyewitnesses claimed he got a description of the shooter’s face that night from over 100 feet away (at night, on a dark narrow street) after seeing the shooter for moments. Furthermore, the two eyewitnesses who were friends of the victim waited a month to tell the police that they witnessed the defendant with the victim on the night of the shooting.
Oh, and the defendant says he was in New York at the time of the shooting and had never even set foot in Philadelphia until his arrest for this murder.
Additionally, the medical examiner testified that the bullet traveled at a downward trajectory. The defendant in this case is 5’4” compared to the victim’s 5’9” frame. That would make it very difficult for the defendant to shoot downward at the victim considering the crime took place on flat land and the witness never stated that the victim was on his knees at the time of the shooting.
I recommend further investigation in this matter to see what the eyewitnesses remember about the murder. Also, the possible DNA testing of the victim’s pockets and the money found on the ground next to the victim. Finally, further investigation into the possible location of an alibi witness that may have seen the defendant in New York on the night of the incident.
Mike Gerrity, Michigan State Law School, class of 2015