According to court records, Charles Mumphrey told police he committed the crime but later changed his story after police told him he could serve time in jail for perjury. Police told him he didn't know enough about the crime and that he was trying to protect Arthur, court records said. ...Police pressuring victims and informants to identify the wrong suspect is emerging as a key source of wrongful convictions in Texas. Where's the substance behind all the "victim's rights" rhetoric I keep hearing, I wonder? What good did it do the rights of the 13-year old victim in this case when they ignored the real rapist who confessed to focus on their preferred suspect? She must feel just terrible. In the Ruben Cantu case, too, the victim was pressured to blame someone who wasn't culpable, even after he'd twice said Cantu didn't do it.
During a prison interview Friday with the Associated Press, Arthur Mumphrey said police manipulated [co-defendant-turned-snitch Steve] Thomas and the victim into blaming him for the crime.
The best way to keep more innocent people from being convicted is to figure out how it happened before, then restructure the rules to prevent similarly flawed evidence from producing more false convictions. Faulty witness testimony ranks at the top of the list of reasons for wrongful convictions.
I've argued before that eyewitnesses should be corroborated when they didn't previously know the defendant in a criminal case, as should jailhouse informants. Even that reform wouldn't have helped here, though, because the mendacious snitch would have been corroborated by the victim's testimony. She was just pressured into naming the wrong man.
Perhaps it would have helped if police followed best practices disallowing officers doing the investigation from participating in the lineups. Lineups work best when officers conducting the procedure don't know which person is a suspect.
In any event, this case strikes another blow against the presumed credibility in court of victims' eyewitness testimony. However emotional and compelling to a jury, at the end of the day too many get it wrong.
More at CrimProf blog. The prosecutor says he "feels terrible." That and $2 will get you coffee at the Starbucks, if you don't order one of those fancy ones.