Jennifer Thompson Eyewitness Testimony

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Through her own traumatizing personal experiences, Jennifer Thompson has the profound experience to advocate against the strength of eyewitness testimony. As found in her case, the eyewitness testimony that she gave against Ronald Cotton, the accused rapist, was most likely the piece of evidence that put him behind bars. Thompson was a college student with a 4.0 GPA who studied the face of her attacker in order to identify him to the police. She prepared for the identification. She was the perfect eyewitness. Years later through DNA testing, it was confirmed that Ronald Cotton was innocent and Bobby Poole was the man who committed the crime. How could Thompson, the perfect witness, be so wrong? The argument that Thompson is trying to make through …show more content…

She “studied every detail on the rapist’s face. [She] looked at his hairline; [she] looked for scars, for tattoos, for anything that would help [her] identify him” (New York Times). She put so much effort to stay conscious and study this much detail of her attacker, yet when Bobby Poole stood in front of her in the courthouse, she did not recognize him claiming “that she’s never seen that man before in her life”. This shows that there are other contributing factors that could lead a witness to misidentify an attacker and that even the “best” eyewitnesses are not perfect. Thompson shared the statistic that eyewitness error is the leading cause of wrongful convictions in America. This supports her argument by claiming that she is not the only case of misidentification. Errors like this occur in trial and investigation considerably often. Thompson brings up another case in Texas where there is another man on death row because of a flimsy eyewitness identification. This goes to show that eyewitness misidentifications can have heavy consequences to the wrongfully convicted as well as how common misidentifications are. Overall, Thompson claims that even the most confident witnesses can be

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