A study by Northwestern University Law School’s Center on Wrongful Convictions found that 46% of documented wrongful capital convictions between 1973 and 2004 could be traced to false testimony by snitches.
Research found through the Innocence Project illustrates just how much of an influence misidentification, false confessions, and even snitches can have on wrongful convictions.
- In 1996, a woman was charged for her ex-boyfriend’s possession of 500g of cocaine in a safe at her house. Even though her ex-boyfriend admitted that it was his and even had the key to the safe, she was still charged for everything in the safe, including what had recently been sold. She was also charged with obstruction of justice for denying knowing anything about what her ex-boyfriend was doing with the drugs. Having testified that he had paid her to store the drugs at her house, the ex-boyfriend received a lighter sentence.
- In 1984, a man was convicted of molesting two young girls. He was at the time dating their mother. 20 years later, the girls recanted their story, stating that their grandmother had actually told them to blame the man. Their 9 year-old brother, being too young to be prosecuted, had actually committed the crime.
- In 1985, a man was convicted of the murder of a man in 1983 during a robbery. He was convicted on a very weak identification almost entirely based on his race. After serving 3 years of his sentence to life in prison, there was a retrial, and he was acquitted when the Supreme Judicial Court threw out his conviction.
- In 1982, a man in Louisiana spent 14 years on death row after being falsely convicted of murder. While facing his seventh execution date, a blood test, eyewitness reports, and other evidence hidden by at least 4 prosecutors were later revealed, ultimately leading to this man’s freedom. After suing the District Attorney’s Office, a jury awarded him $14 million, $1 million for each year on death row.
- In 1986, a man was convicted of the murder of his wife in their bed. He had left a note for her before leaving that morning expressing disappointment with her falling asleep on him the previous night, but he ended the letter with, “I love you.” Prosecutors convicted him, feeling he was enraged and bludgeoned her to death. 25 years later, DNA evidence came forth that proved his innocence. Prosecutors had also purposefully withheld key evidence, including police records of a conversation that his young son had with his mother-in-law where the boy testifies of witnessing the murder.