The result of a recent trial in a Michigan criminal courtroom shows how the testimony of a witness to a crime can sometimes be uncertain or unreliable -- even when the witness is the victim.
The defendant in a felony home invasion trial was found not guilty on Dec. 12. The jury in the trial, which took place in Bay County, deliberated for less than two hours before returning the not guilty verdict. No jurors are quoted in an article by MLive.com, but it appears that the victim’s uncertainty about who attacked him in his home might have contributed to the jury’s decision.
Court records described in the news story present a brief picture of the case against the defendant, a 21-year-old man. On July 19, prosecutors claimed, he was part of a group of three men who got into a dispute with a man in the house next door. The men yelled at the victim from a neighbor’s porch, before the victim went inside his home.
According to the man, someone knocked on his door a few minutes later. Standing outside were the defendant and the two other men. Police claimed that the defendant threatened the man. When the victim shut the door, the other two men kicked in the door. It should be noted that the defendant had a broken leg at the time.
Two of the men entered the house and punched the victim, while a third stood outside. They left, but a brick was thrown through the window a short time later.
The victim was not sure who had attacked him. It was nearly three weeks later when police showed him a lineup that included the defendant and another suspect in the case. At that time, he said that both had attacked him, though he had not said so in his original police report.
The co-defendant reached a plea bargain, in which he pleaded guilty in exchange for a reduced charge. But the evidence apparently did not support the charge against the 21-year-old.
Source: MLive.com, “Bay City man found not guilty of home invasion a week after codefendant pleads guilty,” Cole Waterman, Dec. 13, 2013