Criminal Charges Dropped Against Paraplegic Man Accused of Robbing UPS Driver and Running Away
Eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable. According to The Innocence Project, hundreds of scientific studies performed over several decades have established that eyewitness testimony is often inaccurate and can be influenced by the ways in which victims are asked to identify perpetrators – for instance, through presentation of skewed photo arrays. This was apparently the case with a Las Vegas man who was arrested and jailed pending trial for stealing a cell phone and scanner from a UPS driver and then fleeing the scene.
A report from the Las Vegas Review-Journal states that Antwine Hunter, a man who has not walked without leg braces since he was twelve years old, was charged with snatching a cell phone and scanner from a UPS driver and then running away. Hunter was jailed because he could not post bail. In 1999, when he was twelve, Hunter was shot five times in a drive-by shooting outside a middle school in Compton, California. Two of those bullets left him paralyzed from the waist down. When he arrived at the jail, his leg braces were not permitted, so he had to wait to be provided with a wheelchair.
How was Hunter charged with and jailed for a crime he clearly could not have committed? The UPS driver picked him out of a photo array with six other men – but the photos were headshots only. The photo array therefore gave no indication that Hunter was not physically able to have fled the crime scene. Detectives never questioned Hunter about the crime before they arrested him, and it is not clear why he was included in the lineup or how he came to police attention in connection with the incident. The arrest warrant said only that he was “identified via investigative means.” The prosecutor had reviewed the case on paper but had not met Hunter and did not know he was paralyzed until his defense lawyer informed her of that fact. She knew only that he had a prior felony record and that the driver had identified him from the photo lineup.
At a hearing, upon seeing Hunter in person for the first time, the UPS driver stated that Hunter was not the person who had robbed him. The officer who wrote the arrest warrant did not appear. Thereafter, the prosecutor noted that Hunter was physically incapable of having committed the crime he was charged with and dropped the charges. The judge, however, ruled that authorities could pursue further charges against Hunter if they found additional evidence linking him to the theft.
Consult an Orlando Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you are facing criminal charges and have been identified through a lineup or eyewitness testimony, you may feel that your situation is hopeless. But the savvy criminal defense lawyers of The Baez Law Firm have experience providing our clients with a thorough, aggressive defense, including challenging the evidence offered by the prosecution. Contact us for a consultation about your case today.