Often times, the outcome of a criminal trial is based heavily on the testimony of the witnesses. This means that when false statements are made during your trial, it may lead to the wrongful incrimination; resulting in being convicted of a crime you did not commit. Since everyone is entitled to a fair trial, witness perjury can lead to an appeal on a conviction.
That’s what might be happening for one Miami man after he was granted a new trial when doubt was cast on the state’s key eyewitness and the significance of DNA found on a cap found at the crime scene.
According to an article in the Miami Herald, at Tony Brown’s original trial, Miami-Dade prosecutors said the defendant shot and killed Nigel Whatley during a robbery and scuffle outside the Players Club in October 2005. A surviving victim, Michael Morris, who was wounded in the robbery, identified Brown as the attacker. But Morris told police he was only “60 percent” certain the attacker was Brown, who also went by the name Andre Gonzalez.
Current doubt is being cast after students from the Medill Justice Project at Northwestern University, interviewed a prison inmate that insisted Brown was not the killer. The inmate, Arnold Clark, later testified that his friend, a DJ at the club that night, was the actual killer, not Brown.
What is Witness Perjury
When someone lies under oath, they are committing perjury. A witness may be mistaken in their statement, whether they don’t remember or have a fuzzy memory of the incident. The statement may be false and technically a lie, but not perjury. Whether a witness makes a false statement that constitutes as perjury depends on the motive and intent. Cases for perjury are referred to the district or county attorney, sometimes for presentation to a grand jury. This referral can be done by the judge, or a complaint can be filed by the attorneys or parties to the case.
What Happens Once Perjury Is Discovered
Generally, you may have to prove that the testimony was indeed false and that the prosecutor knew it was false. Additionally, you must also show that the false testimony could likely have affected the judgment. Once these can be proven, an appeal can be filed.
These appeals can lead to a new trial that can prove one’s innocence in a crime, and free them from their sentences. If you or someone you know has been convicted of a crime they didn’t commit, because a key witness is guilty of perjury – you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney for help. They will be able to evaluate your case and let you know if it’s something you should pursue.
Ovalle, D. (n.d.). Thanks to journalism students, Miami man gets chance to prove he’s innocent of murder. Retrieved from https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/crime/article217988025.html