Darrell Edwards Deserves a New Trial

John Edwards has been much in the news recently, but a different Edwards -- Darrell -- is going through his own version of hell.

Edwards was convicted of the 1995 execution-style shooting of a drug dealer in Newark. It took three years for the case to go to trial. The first two ended in mistrials, and the third ended with a hung jury that acquitted a co-defendant. At his fourth trial, Edwards was convicted, due in large part to dubious eyewitness testimony.

An editorial in The Philadelphia Inquirer explains why Darrell Edwards deserves a new trial. [more ...]

Edwards' attorneys claim DNA testing on the gun and on a sweatshirt believed to belong to the shooter excludes their client.

That's enough to raise doubts about Edwards' guilt, but there's much more:

The key witness fingered Edwards although she was sitting on her porch almost the length of a football field away from the murder scene. New scientific analysis offered by Edwards' attorneys argues that the witness couldn't clearly see the killer at night from her porch 271 feet away. In addition, the witness wasn't wearing her prescription glasses at the time, and now says in an affidavit that on the night of the murder she had been drinking and was high on heroin.

More alarming, she added that when she identified Edwards in a photo lineup she was "just guessing." She says a police investigator pointed to Edwards, and said that another witness had picked him out - thus improperly influencing her decision.

Police investigators aren't supposed to put their thumb on the scale by influencing identifications. That doesn't always stop them from doing it. But wait, there's still more:

Two other witnesses who were closer to the shooting both told police Edwards wasn't the shooter. At Edwards' third trial, the government produced an unsigned statement from one of the witnesses saying he wasn't sure that Edwards was the shooter. The witness now denies knowing about this statement and affirmed in an affidavit that Edwards wasn't involved in the shooting.

Edwards' attorneys say police also ignored evidence from a Drug Enforcement Administration informant who linked the murder to a drug trafficking ring out of Atlanta, which had no ties to Edwards.

Add it all up and it's clear that the Inquirer is making the right call:

At a minimum, Edwards deserves a new trial. And if he's found to have been wrongfully convicted, someone should investigate the investigators.
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  • Display: Sort:
    From what I understand, eyewitness testimony (none / 0) (#1)
    by Teresa on Sun Aug 10, 2008 at 01:58:42 PM EST
    isn't that reliable to begin with...but a football field away at night?? I wouldn't even be able to tell the person's gender much less pick them out of a lineup.

    Some of these posts on our judicial system really scare me.

    boy, who did this guy (none / 0) (#2)
    by cpinva on Sun Aug 10, 2008 at 05:00:31 PM EST
    p*ss off? more to the point, however could a jury find him guilty, beyond a reasonable doubt, based on this "evidence"?

    the world truly is full of stupid people.

    Why would a prosecutor go forward (none / 0) (#3)
    by liberalone on Sun Aug 10, 2008 at 08:39:33 PM EST
    with such a shaky case.  What ever happened to ethics.  The witness was 271 feet away AND a druggie.  What additional evidence did the DA have?  Was the gun linked to him?  There has to be more. Even if Edwards had a rap sheet a mile long the prosecutor knew the case was weak.  

    I guess the DA decided he would keep swinging at the guy until Edwards had done the desired time behind bars awaiting new trials and/or there was a conviction.