calvin willis and his family
check out the innocence project:
• A witness made an identification in a “show-up” procedure from the back of a police car hundreds of feet away from the suspect in a poorly lit parking lot in the middle of the night. • A witness in a rape case was shown a photo array where only one photo of the person police suspected was the perpetrator was marked with an “R.”
• Witnesses substantially changed their description of a perpetrator (including key information such as height, weight and presence of facial hair) after they learned more about a particular suspect.
• Witnesses only made an identification after multiple photo arrays or lineups — and then made hesitant identifications (saying they “thought” the person “might be” the perpetrator, for example), but at trial the jury was told the witnesses did not waver in identifying the suspect.
One night in 1982, three young girls were sleeping alone in a Shreveport, Louisiana home when a man in cowboy boots came into the house and raped the oldest girl, who was 10 years old. When police started to investigate the rape, the three girls all remembered the attack differently. One police report said the 10-year-old victim didn’t see her attacker’s face. Another report — which wasn’t introduced at trial — said she identified Calvin Willis, who lived in the neighborhood. The girl’s mother testified at trial that neighbors had mentioned Willis’s name when discussing who might have committed the crime. The victim testified that she was shown photos and told to pick the man without a full beard. She testified that she didn’t pick anyone, police said she picked Willis. Willis was convicted by a jury and sentenced to life in prison. In 2003, DNA testing proved Willis’ innocence and he was released. He had served nearly 22 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.