The mind performs in a mysterious way when it is under stress. For most people, witnessing a crime would be considered a major stressor which could impact the reliability of eyewitness testimony. While television shows often show a dramatic identification of a suspect by an eyewitness, such testimony is often found to be unreliable in real life. As a result, additional evidence may be necessary to secure a conviction. However, one Illinois teenager has been charged with murder in the death of a young woman based on a witness's identification.
The incident happened in July 2014. At approximately 7 p.m. one evening, a 19-year-old woman was walking on a sidewalk with some of her friends. According to police reports, the group was approached by a person on a bicycle. This person allegedly shot the woman in the back. Although she was transported to an area hospital for treatment, she died just over an hour after the shooting.
An eyewitness apparently identified the 17-year-old who has now been charged with the murder. It is unclear if there is any other evidence to link the teenager to the crime or what a possible murder. Additionally, it is unclear if there was a prior relationship between the alleged shooter and the victim. The young man accused of the crime was recently denied bail and is scheduled to appear in court later this month.
People in this country who are accused of a crime are afforded several rights. For example, anyone, even those charged with murder, are innocent until -- and only if -- they are proven otherwise. In order to prove guilt, an Illinois prosecutor must provide enough evidence to remove reasonable doubt. In this case, it may be necessary to provide more evidence than the testimony of a single witness. By requiring such a high burden of proof, it is hopeful that wrongful convictions can be avoided.
Source: Chicago Tribune, "No bail for teen charged in July fatal shooting in Englewood", Deanese Williams-Harris, Dec. 1, 2014