More than three quarters of 207 wrongful convictions overturned by DNA evidence were caused, at least in part, by eyewitness misidentification. But countless innocent people have been cleared by DNA testing before trials against them could proceed. DNA testing and the growing awareness of the shortcomings of eyewitness identifications continue to prevent innocent people from going to trial for crimes they didn’t commit.
In Baltimore on Friday, authorities dropped charges against a man held in jail on rape charges for nearly a month before DNA tests came back showing that he was not the perpetrator. Chaz Ricks, 20, was arrested in August after a detective noticed a similarity between him and a composite sketch of the man who raped a 59-year-old woman in North Baltimore. Upon his release, he becomes another misidentified person who avoided prosecution thanks to DNA tests.
Police Department spokesman Sterling Clifford said, "We had somebody that appeared to be the most likely suspect. The evidence points in a different direction, so we'll go in a different direction."
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. (Baltimore Sun, 09/22/07)