3 presented at trial; Dennis was convicted almost entirely through eyewitness identification.
Although the crime was committed by at least two people, Dennis was the only person ever arrested or convicted for the crime.There were numerous flaws with the investigation and prosecution of this crime, flawsthat significantly diminish confidence in the outcome. The police focus on Dennis stemmed fromneighborhood rumors that he had been involved. This focus appears to have led police tooverlook disparities between the eyewitness descriptions of the shooter and Dennis, most
importantly their descriptions of the shooter’s size.
All five of the nine eyewitnesses who provided an estimate of the shooter
’s height in their statements to the police described the
shooter as between
and 5’10”, with four describing him as 5’9” or 5’10”. Not a single
eyewitness described the shooter as small, short, or petite. However,
Dennis is only 5’
and125-132 pounds, significantly smaller than the descriptions of the shooter. NT 10/14/92 at 74-75.Moreover, the victim, Williams,
Postmortem Report, Pet’r’s Br. Ex. 87,
and yet noneof the witnesses remarked that the shooter was much shorter than Williams, even though theshooter and Williams were standing close to each other when the shooting occurred.
Police showed most of the
eyewitnesses photo arrays with Dennis’ photo
. Not one
According to the amicus brief filed in this case by the Pennsylvania Innocence Project, in 36 percent of the
Innocence Network’s DNA
-based exonerations, multiple witnesses misidentified the same innocent person. Brief for the Pennsylvania Innocence Project, et. al. as
3 (hereinafter “Innocence Project Brief”). In a study of
250 cases in which defendants were exonerated after conviction, Professor Brandon L. Garrett found thateyewitnesses misidentified 76 percent of the exonerees (190 of 250 cases).
. at 6 (citing Brandon L. Garrett,Convicting The Innocent: Where Criminal Prosecutions Go Wrong 48 (Harvard 2011)). As the Third Circuit has
aken eyewitness identifications are responsible for more wrongful convictions than all other causescombined. . . . [E]yewitness evidence presented from well-meaning and confident citizens is highly persuasive but,at the same time, is among the least reli
able forms of evidence.”
United States v. Brownlee
, 454 F.3d 131, 142 (3dCir. 2006) (internal quotation marks omitted).The Innocence Project found that over 175 people have been wrongfully convicted based in part oneyewitness misidentification; they were later proven innocent through DNA testing. Innocence Project Brief at 6.Unfortunately, there is no DNA evidence here that could definitiv
ely prove Dennis’ guilt or innocence.
Indeed, one eyewitness, David Leroy, told investigators for the defense,
after the trial, that the shooter “was just alittle taller than” Williams. 1997 Leroy Stmt., Pet’r’s Br. Ex. 47.
Case 2:11-cv-01660-AB Document 54 Filed 08/21/13 Page 3 of 46