Misidentifications

Most of the wrongful convictions that are overturned by DNA evidence are due to mistaken eyewitness testimony. Here are several examples:

LUIS DIAZ

Luis Diaz spent 26 years in prison after being identified by 8 different assault victims as the "Bird Road Rapist". Mr Diaz, who weighed 134 pounds and stood 5'3", was convicted despite the victims describing the attacker as approximately 200 pounds and between 6'0" - 6'2" tall. In the initial live line-up, 5 victims identified Luis as the attacker, while 4 chose no one and 4 identified men other than Luis. Luis Diaz was ultimately proved innocent through DNA testing.

TROY RUFRA

Troy Rufra, facing up to 80 years if convicted, was identified by 4 bank employees of robbing 4 different supermarket bank branches. He was first identified by a teller while he was shopping at one of the supermarkets about 3 weeks after one of the robberies. His photo was shown to the teller and 3 other witnesses who all said he was the robber. Troy claimed his innocence from day one, and his innocence was finally supported by an airtight alibi during a fifth bank robbery.

NICHOLAS MOBLEY

Nicholas Mobley was locked up for 29 days before murder charges against him were dropped. His photo was initially randomly selected by detectives to be included in the photo spread alongside potential suspects. After his photo was selected by someone, he was placed in a live line up where 5 witnesses selected him.

WILLIAM JENT & EARNEST MILLER

William Jent and Earnest Miller, half-brothers, were convicted and sentenced to death largely based on testimony of 3 alleged eyewitnesses. However, a re-examination of the autopsy report demonstrated that the crime never took place the way the eyewitness's described it. When the actual time of the murder was established, it was discovered that the men had airtight alibis.

KIRK NOBLE BLOODSWORTH

Kirk Noble Bloodsworth, a former Marine discus champion, was sentenced to death in 1985 for the rape and murder of 9-year-old Dawn Hamilton the previous year in Baltimore County, Maryland. The principal evidence linking him to the crime was the testimony of 5 witnesses who placed him either with the victim or near the scene of the crime at the time it was believed to have occurred. Kirk was freed by DNA testing after spending almost 9 years in prison.

RONALD COTTON

Ronald Cotton was convicted twice of rape and burglary based on his identifcation by the two victims. He served over ten years before DNA testing proved that the true assailant was a convict who previously admitted to the crimes. One of the victims, Jennifer Thompson, made a strong effort to remember the perpetrator's face during the attack and was confident she picked the right man, yet she made a mistaken identification. Even today, more than a decade later, when she relives the attack she pictures Cotton's face and not the true assailant. Jennifer Thompson now speaks out about the danger of relying on eyewitness testimony.

ARTHUR LEE WHITFIELD

Mr. Whitfield was identified by 2 rape victims which occured within an hour of each other one night in Norfolk, VA. He was convincted in one case, and pled guilty in the second to get a reduced sentence. Both victims described the attacker as having no facial hair, while Mr. Whitfield had a beard at the time. He was freed after 22 years in prison through DNA testing which pointed to a man already serving life in prison for sexual assault. Interestingly, one of the victims still maintains he was the perpetrator despite the DNA testing.

PATRICK WALLER

Patrick Waller was convicted of robbery and kidnapping after being identified by 3 witnesses in photo lineups a week after the crime and later by a 4th witness at a live lineup. He was freed after more than 15 years in prison when a DNA test in 2007 matched the profile of another man in the national DNA database. Link

MORE EXAMPLES

Many other examples of mistaken identity (almost always proved through DNA tests) can be found at the Innocence Project. Unfortunately no DNA exists in Jimmy's case. Link

Tip Line

If you have any information about this case, please call the Jimmy Dennis Tip Line at 1-800-728-1854, a toll-free and confidential call. No information is too small as it can lead to additional evidence being discovered.

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