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Articles by Christopher Moraff

Double Blind: Preventing Eyewitness Error

Police had little to go on. The only witness to Bullock’s murder – her 17-year-old friend, Tyeisha Powell – described their assailant as black, about 5-feet-10 or 5-feet-11, with dark brown eyes and a slight beard, according to press reports at the time.

Investigators used that bare-bones description to create a composite of the killer, and within weeks they had a tip. The sketch matched a 23-year old homeless drug user who had recently been released from county jail. His name was Malcolm Jabbar Bryant.

Detectives presented Bryant’s mugshot to Powell, together with images of five other men, in a photo array commonly known as a “six pack” lineup. She identified the suspect as the man who attacked them. Powell would positively identify Bryant once more – this time in court, during his trial for first-degree murder.

In spite of five alibi witnesses ...