Ross Currier, 26, an accountant was seen in the North end of Boston playing basketball by a woman who had been recently sexually assaulted. She told police that she was 90 to 95% sure that he was the man who assaulted her. Currier was arrested and charged with sexual assault, he was released on bail and forced to wear a GPS bracelet on his leg this past month.
It was only after his alibi checked out through independent witnesses that the prosecutor agreed that they had arrested the wrong man. The case was dismissed in Boston Municipal Court and Currier made a statement to the press requesting someone take responsibility for what happened and apologize.
This incident is a strong reminder of how eye witnesses and victims can misidentify a suspect very easily. What happens in a traumatic moment can be remembered far differently than what actually occurred. Our brains process and remember sensory input differently and memory accuracy is affected by stress and anxiety.
The police are acting on what they believe is accurate information from a victim who appears to be sincere in her identification. But what happens when a victim does not remember or misidentifies a suspect? It leaves the suspect with the burden of proving his innocence.
Misidentification happens all the time and it was not until DNA testing that many misidentified prisoners were released after it was discovered that they truly were not the ones who perpetrated the crime in question.
It is important to understand the human brain is not perfect and can only take in and recall sensory data in a limited manner which varies for each of us. High stress or a frightening event make it even harder to accurately take in or recall sensory information. Once time passes events can be manipulated in the mind without even knowing. A victim may truly believe in a sequence of events or an identification when asked to recall not knowing they have in fact changed the events in their mind to make sense. The same event can be recalled by multiple witnesses in different ways, this happens all the time.
Frank Fernandez a criminal lawyer in Boston defends people accused of crimes who have been wrongfully identified. Experts are used to educate the jury as to the pitfalls that exist in identification and how just because someone sincerely believes they are sure of a situation that it may not be the case. For a free consultation call 617-393-0250