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University of South Florida Eyewitness Reliability Debate Paper

University of South Florida Eyewitness Reliability Debate Paper


Eyewitness Reliability Debate

Learning Objective 3b and 5c

The purpose of this discussion is to ponder the dynamics of reconstructed memory and eyewitness accounts, including their potential accuracy and/or inaccuracy.

Step 1: Read the following scenario based on the case of Francisco Carrillo:

The witnesses were standing near the curb on Lugo Avenue well after sunset.

Jan. 18, 1991, when Donald Sarpy walked out of his home to talk to his son. A car cruised down the residential street and then made a second pass. A passenger leaned out the window and fired several gun shots. Sarpy, 41, was struck in the chest.

The victim had no connection to any gang, but the area had seen tit-for-tat shootings between a predominantly African American gang, the Neighborhood Crips, and a mostly Latino gang, Young Crowd. That night, Scott Turner, a Neighborhood Crips member and one of the boys standing on the sidewalk, identified a photograph of Carrillo as that of the shooter.

After his arrest, Carrillo, then 16, denied any involvement in the shooting, telling detectives he was home watching television the night of the killing. He had grown up in Lynwood but moved to Maywood more than a year earlier to live with his father. Carrillo admitted he was a Young Crowd member but said he had not recently associated with the gang.

The other boys were not asked to review a photo lineup of Carrillo until six months after the shooting. Deputy District Attorney Mary Ann Escalante, who prosecuted Carrillo, described the sheriff’s investigation as “shoddy at best” when she testified.

With varying degrees of certainty, the boys selected Carrillo’s photograph.


Step 2: Based on the textbook readings about memory and/or other credible sources you find, explain in at least *one* paragraph why or why not Carrillo should have been convicted based on eyewitness accounts alone.  Include at least *two* relevant concepts from the assignment readings in your response.

Step 3: This next part can be challenging.  In at least *one* paragraph, present the opposite side of your opinion in Step 2.  In your explanation, integrate at least *two* relevant concepts from the assigned readings.

In other words, if you believe Carrillo should have been convicted based on eyewitness testimony alone, in Step 3, explain why he should not have been.  If you believed he should not have been convicted based on eyewitness testimony alone, then explain why he should have been.

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