In a criminal trial, eyewitnesses can play a major role in whether the prosecution will obtain a conviction. Eyewitnesses, however, can sometimes prove to be unreliable, as shown by the recent Trayvon Martin case in Florida.
When witnesses give inconsistent testimony, criminal defense for the accused can use these inconsistencies to discredit their testimony. For example, recently four witnesses who were integral to the Zimmerman case have changed their stories. All four were neighbors who allegedly saw what happened.
The first witness at issue originally said she saw two individuals fighting. Weeks later, she changed her story and claimed that she only saw one person at the scene. She knew a person was out there, but she could not tell who it was because it was dark and she did not have her glasses on, according to the witness.
The second witness had claimed she saw two people on the ground right after the shooting but could not tell who was on top. Later, she reported that after seeing Zimmerman on television, she knew he had been the one on top because of his size.
The third witness claimed that he saw a black man who was on top of a lighter skinned man and punching him. In a later interview, he said that he did not know who was calling for help and whether any punches were thrown.
The last questionable witness claimed he saw Zimmerman with blood on the back of his head right after the shooting. Zimmerman allegedly told him he had to shoot Martin because he was getting beaten up so badly. But a month later, the witness said Zimmerman’s demeanor was calm, as though the incident had been nothing.
The role that eyewitnesses play in convicting individuals makes it important to have an experienced defense attorney who can protect your rights and highlight the inconsistencies in eyewitness statements.
Source: Yahoo News, “Trayvon Martin shooting: Witnesses change stories ahead of Zimmerman trial,” Dylan Stableford, May 23, 2012