Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Summary of Shane Watson's Case by Dr. Jennifer Dysart

THE PEOPLE vs. SHANE WATSON: A SUMMATION
The following is a summary of the case of The People vs. Shane Watson, written by Dr. Jennifer Dysart of John Jay College of Criminal Justice after her review of the trial transcripts and police reports. Dr. Dysart is one of the countries leading experts in the field of photo array and lineup procedures as used (and abused) in criminal trials. This summation offers a concise analysis of the details of the trial, most importantly the very questionable aspects of Shane’s case which support our efforts toward his exoneration. My gratitude goes out to Dr. Dysart for her dedication and time spent composing this summary.
Defendant: Shane Watson
Victim: Mark Johnson
Crime occurred in 1991, trial and conviction in 1993 in NY.
Main prosecution evidence presented at trial:
· Three eyewitness identifications
· No physical evidence
· No motive
· All witnesses state that the perp was wearing a hooded sweatshirt that was pulled tightly, making it difficult to see the face.
Defense evidence presented at trial:
· One eyewitness
· One witness who had a conversation about the crime with witness Holloway (see below).
Prosecution eyewitnesses:
1. Christine Holloway
· Prime witness
· At trial she stated that she viewed the perp from her car as she was parking
· On earlier occasions she stated that she was out of her car going into her apartment when she viewed him
· She chose the defendant from a lineup
· Questionable facts:
· Holloway told a neighbor (Martin) that she did not see the perp’s face and that it would be impossible for anyone to see his face because he had a hooded sweatshirt on with the hood pulled tight around his face. Martin also testified that Holloway told her that she was being harassed by the police to make an identification.
· Defense council believed that she was a suspect in her husband’s murder at the time of the crime. He did not have any evidence to support his belief and it was never brought to the jury’s attention.
2. Monique James
· The detective notes state that she “can not ID”
· Other detective notes state that she did not see or hear anything.
· Made an identification from the photo spread and from the lineup.
3. Robin James (Monique James’ sister)
· Told police that the man had a "big gun".
· Said she saw the perp running.
· Made an identification from the photo spread and from the lineup.
Defense witnesses:
1. Jesus Jimenez
· Viewed the crime and gave a description to the police
· Was never shown a lineup
· Testified at trial that the defendant was not the man he saw do the shooting.
2. Martin (neighbor)
· Did not witness the crime
· Spoke with Holloway and was told by Holloway that she did not see the perp’s face.
Other questionable facts:
1. The victim’s girlfriend, Diana Almonte, was approximately 3 car lengths away from the victim when the shooting began. She gave a description to the police of the perp and called him an unidentified man. She was acquainted with the defendant (she is his ex-girlfriend and the defendant is the father of her cousin’s child) and therefore when she stated that the perp was an unidentified male, is questions the likelihood that the perp was the defendant. She was never shown a lineup.
2. The victim was the third boyfriend of Diana Almonte who had been killed.
3. One of the sisters told her mother that the perp was a brown skinned Puertorican. This is also reflected in the detective’s notes. The defendant is African-American.
4. It was never brought to light how Watson became a suspect in the case. The crime stoppers anonymous call implicating Watson came in after all three prosecution witnesses has made an identification.
5. The sisters were both shown a photo lineup followed by a live lineup, where only the defendant appeared in both lineups.
6. The sisters lived together and one of the sisters was shown the same lineup as the other four days after the first sister chose #1. There is a substantial likelihood that the sisters discussed the case during these four days.
7. One of the sisters testified at trial that the police suggested to her that the person who did the crime looked like the man in position 1 in the photo lineup. The defendant was in position 1. Because the identification from the photo lineup was biased, the following live lineup was also biased.
8. No search warrant was executed for Watson’s home.
9. The victim had been released from prison for murder. His victim’s family members were never questioned by police.
10. There was another male witness, William Nin, who gave a description the night of the crime but was never shown a lineup and never testified at trial. He told police that the perp used a shotgun.
11. Almonte also told police that the perp used a long gun. In total, 3 witnesses said that the perp used a long gun, but this did not match the ballistic evidence, which suggested the gun was a handgun.
12. Watson walks and runs with a limp due to an accident that required a metal rod to be inserted in his leg. None of the witnesses said that the perp limped.
13. When Watson heard that the police were looking for him, he went to the police station on his own.


NOTE: (JANUARY 6, 2012) Here is updated information about Dr. Jennifer Dysart:

Jennifer Dysart

Associate Professor, Psychology
John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Jennifer Dysart
conducts research on eyewitness accuracy, the use of show-ups and mug shot searching on identification accuracy, false confessions, interrogator suggestibility, double-blind administration, and cross-race identification. Her research focuses on how specific eyewitness identification procedures can lead to an increased rate of false identification of innocent suspects and safeguards that may be implemented to reduce identification errors. Dysart has published in peer-reviewed journals in the field and has written several book chapters on eyewitness identification accuracy. As an experimental forensic psychologist, Dysart also consults on criminal cases and gives lectures to law enforcement and public defenders

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