The Perils of Eyewitness Identification

"Oppstilling-2" by Oslo police - Torgersen-sa. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Oppstilling-2” by Oslo police - Torgersen-sa. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

It’s a scene that has become a staple in modern pop culture.

A witness to a crime walks into a room, looks at a lineup of stone-faced suspects from behind a two-way mirror and dramatically points to the person they saw commit a crime.

From there, it usually only takes a few dramatic speeches from lawyers before that suspect is on his or her way to prison.

As it turns out, the reality of eyewitness identifications is much more complicated and much less reliable than it is presented in movies and television shows. Read more

Joe Barber Indicted on First-Degree Murder Charge in the Stabbing Death of Rachel Cox

Joe Anthony Barber, 55, pleaded innocent Monday to the charge of first-degree murder while armed, after being indicted in connection with the fatal stabbing of Rachel Cox 30 years ago.

On Jan. 1, 1984, 43-year-old Cox was stabbed in her apartment on the 3300 block of 6th Street Southeast, according to charging documents.

Twenty-nine years later, the DNA found on Cox’s body was entered into the Combined DNA Index System, documents say. A comparison with DNA profiles in the National DNA Database revealed a positive match to Joe Barber, a registered sex offender, which led to his arrest in November 2013.
Read more

Tea Planned for Survivors and Victims of Homicide

On October 5, survivors and victims of homicides and violent crimes are invited to attend “A Mother’s Tea” at the Historic Willard Intercontinental Hotel.

If interested, people should RSVP by September 26 by calling one of three phone numbers available on the invitation at the bottom of the post. Rides are available from the Anacostia Metro Station.

The tea is made possible by an anonymous contributor and supported by ten organizations, including the Metropolitan Police Department and Forgiving Mothers.

More information is after the jump.
Read more

Man Killed Early Sunday Morning in NE D.C. Shooting

An unidentified man was killed early Sunday morning in the unit block of N Street Northeast, according to MPD.

Police officers responding to a call for an unconscious person found the man at approximately 5:24 a.m. suffering from an apparent gunshot wound. Emergency medical services transported the man to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

A press release from MPD is after the jump.
Read more

Michael Gayle Arrested in NC for Eboni Donally Murder

A man suspected of killing 31-year-old Eboni Domally was arrested in Charlotte, North Carolina, according to WCNC, a local NBC station.

Michael Gayle was arrested by U.S. marshals and Charlotte-Mecklenburg police at his home in Charlotte. He was booked into Mecklenburg County Jail, the station reported.

Domally was found stabbed to death in the 5200 block of Queens Stroll Place Southeast on June 29. Police announced they were looking for Gayle and named him as a suspect on July 2.

New Flyers Identify Transgender Homicide Victims on MPD Site

The Metropolitan Police Department recently introduced a new category for transgender victims on their website’s unsolved homicide flyers page, one of the many steps the department is taking to improve relations with the city’s LGBT community.

The category titled Transgender Victims was introduced in preparation for last month’s town hall meeting between MPD and members of the LGBT community, organized in part by the DC Trans Coalition.

Transgender advocates and allies say the step is meaningful, but not enough.

Acknowledging that these victims were trans women of color is a necessary first step, but by itself is insufficient,” said RJ Nickels, member of DCTC. “More work is needed to repair the broken relationship between the trans and broader LGBTQ community and MPD.”
Read more

Is Cell Phone Location Data Good Enough For Court?

In the Washington Post this weekend, Tom Jackman wrote about a legal threat to the use of cell phone records to provide evidence to a person’s location.

Cell phone records are often used in court to testify to a defendant— or others— being in the vicinity of a crime.

The location information is determined based on an analysis of the cell phone towers a phone “pings” off of. Generally, a person’s phone, if proved to be with them, can provide evidence of where a person is (but not their exact location).

Reports Jackman:

Cellphone records are often used as evidence, relied upon to trace which cell tower was used to make or receive a call and then determine a caller’s whereabouts. But experts say that using a single tower to precisely locate where someone was at the time of a crime has severe limitations. Read more

Police Determine Suicide as Cause of Death in NE DC Fire

A man found dead inside a burning home in Northeast DC earlier this month has been identified and police have determined the cause of death to be suicide.

Investigators determined that the fire to the home was intentionally set, MPD said.

WUSA9: 14-year-old Pleads Innocent To Easter Monday Zoo Shooting

WUSA 9 reports 14-year-old boy charged with attempted first-degree murder in connection to the shooting outside the Smithsonian National Zoo on Easter Monday has pleaded innocent. WUSA9 reports the teen’s next court date has not been scheduled.

Police say the teenager is a member of a Southwest Washington gang that had been fighting with another group, Johnson reports.

Police say the 14-year-old shot the two members of the opposing gang in the hand and arm respectively. Both of the victims were treated and released from the hospital.

Read the rest at WUSA9.

Breaking the Cycle: Mental Health, Violence and Crime

Curtis Mozie from the Tale of the Tape Foundation. (Photo by Kristian Hernandez)

Curtis Mozie, videographer, author and founder of The Tale of the Tape Foundation, has witnessed death and violence firsthand on the streets of D.C. for over thirty years. (Photo by Kristian Hernandez)

He ran across the street looking for help leaving a trail of blood. The 19-year-old collapsed at the entrance of the nearby Kennedy Recreation Center, where his close friend Curtis Mozie worked.

Mozie remembers seeing him laying on the floor bleeding from a stab wound to his heart as he rushed to help him. He gave the teen CPR and brought him back to life twice, but when the medics arrived it was too late. Dalontray Williams, the boy people often mistook as Mozie’s little brother, passed away in his arms.

It was one more loss for a man who has spent years documenting the violence of DC’s streets.
Read more