How Indianapolis Man Was Jailed 11 Months on Mistaken ID


Carlos Starks of Indianapolis was freed after 11 months in jail when one after another, witnesses who had fingered him for the shooting death of Douglas Craft told prosecutors, “That’s not him.” The Indianapolis Star says Starks’ ordeal helps explain why judges, legislatures, and researchers are casting an increasingly skeptical eye on the value of eyewitness testimony — especially testimony based on photo lineups.

“This is just an egregious example of how damaging eyewitness accounts can be and the lack of fair play,” said Fran Watson, a professor of law at Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis and a former chief of the Marion County Public Defender Agency. “People get sentenced to death because of misidentifications like this.” The Star details how the Starks case evolved and says Public Safety Director Frank Straub sees tighter standards on eyewitness IDs as inevitable, if only to avoid legal nightmares such as the Starks case.

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