Local News

Details Of Controversial Photo Lineup Revealed

Posted April 21, 2006
Updated December 9, 2006

— A photo identification report released Friday could blow a hole in the prosecution's case in the Duke lacrosse rape investigation. Defense attorneys question whether the police were biased in their presentation.

When an exotic dancer told police she was raped inside a Durham house last month by three lacrosse players, police collected DNA samples from 46 teammates and photographed them. The tests came back with no matches between the accuser and the players. Shortly thereafter, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligman were placed under arrest.

According to the identification report, the accuser picked the two players from a photo lineup on April 4, three weeks after the incident. WRAL has learned police only used mugshot pictures of the 46 players for the lineup.

Attorney Mark Edwards, who is not involved with the case, said that procedure is like leading the witness.

"I can't believe they didn't put in some other photos," said Edwards. "She's going to know that this is the group of people from which I'm to choose someone."

Edwards said it appears police went against standard operating procedures when it comes to photo lineups. Based on state guidelines, investigators should use a picture of the suspect and at least seven pictures of people who resemble the suspect.

"That's surely going to be suspect," said UNC professor Arnold Loewy.

Loewy recently wrote an editorial dubbed "Wrongful Convictions, Unpopularity and the Duke Lacrosse Case." He said the unusual police procedure with the lineup could weaken the prosecution's case.

"First, it crosses racial identification, which tends to lead to known improper guilty verdicts in the past," he said. "Second, it was a case of somebody who apparently couldn't identify the perpetrators initially."

Defense attorneys for Finnerty and Seligman say they have evidence that will show their clients were not at the party at the time the accuser says the rape happened. The two players are due back in court the week of May 15.

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