Court of Appeals Decision for 10-29-14

On October 29th, the Court of Appeals handed down a decision in State v. Starks, affirming the decision of the trial court to allow evidence of an out of court identification of Starks by the State’s sole witness. In his appeal, Starks argues that the out of court identification evidence was “unnecessarily suggestive and created a substantial likelihood of misidentification under Neil v. Biggers.

Starks robbed a convenience store while wearing a ski mask. The store clerk and eye witness identified Starks during the commission of the crime, through recognition of his voice and body build, based on her prior knowledge of Starks as a regular customer. The clerk later identified Starks in a police line up. The court reasoned that the reliability of Williams’ [the store clerk] testimony that Starks committed the crime depended only upon the accuracy of her recognition of Starks’ voice and body build during the sequence of the crime, and did not depend upon any likelihood of misidentification the police created when she viewed Starks’ face during the show up procedure.  The trial court placed particular emphasis on the fact that Williams knew Starks before the crime. Thus, the Court of Appeals held that the trial court’s finding that the identification was sufficiently reliable is supported by the evidence, and thus was not an abuse of discretion. 

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