Write a short story involving a case of mistaken identity
Captain R. Hulbert Dadd
B Company, 5th Machine Gun Battalion
16 Rue Cassini
Mme Olivier 28/05/1918
37 Rue Papin
Dear Mme L. Olivier,
I regret very much to inform you that your husband, Pte. A.C. Olivier, No. 88521 of this Company was killed in action on the night of the 25th May.
The Company was taking part in an attack and your husband's gun team was one of these which advanced against the enemy. The attack was successful, and all soldiers reached and established new positions. Later in the night the enemy shelled our lines and one shell fell on your husband's gun killing him and wounding a comrade.
It was impossible to get his remains away and he lies in a soldier's grave where he fell.
I and all the Company deeply sympathise with you in your loss. Your husband always did his duty and has given his life for his country. We all honour him, and I trust you will feel some consolation in remembering this.
In true sympathy,
Captain R. Hulbert Dadd
It had been five long years since Lacy received this letter, yet she could still recite it without hesitation. After Lacy found out about the tragic death of her husband, Adrien, she was left distraught, poor, and alone. No-one knew why the wealthiest man in the village wanted her hand in marriage, or liked her in the first place. It didn't make sense. If you didn't have the money, you didn't exist, but Marc made an exception for Lacy. Marc quickly fell in love, and proposed. Lacy had different ideas, but her parents shared Marc's enthusiasm for them to marry, and she said yes after much persuasion. They had been 'happily' married ever since.
Lacy followed the raindrops with her fingers and traced their patterns as they fell on the window. It was April, a stereotypically rainy month, which was living up to its expectations. As she looked down on the markets surrounding the manor, she saw people running for shelter under the stalls with flimsy, fabric roofs. Some gathered their produce and made a dash for the nearest tree, while some lucky people came prepared with umbrellas, and simply used them for shelter. Only a few stayed out, not fazed by the sudden downpour. Of these few she couldn't help but notice a familiar face, staring right back at her. He was wearing a dark trench coat, with a matching bowler hat. His features were indistinguishable, except for his hazel eyes, as the shadows covered him well.
The man had found what he was looking for, and made his way towards the manor in the torrential weather. Most people he had asked for directions to the luxury home from had remembered him, and evaded him. Although he was unsure why he received such a cold reaction, or why he had been glared at, he wasn't here for a malicious purpose, yet. It was none of their business, and after all, he didn't come to make niceties, he was here to see Lacy.
Lacy turned away from the window, and forced herself to steady her breathing, in an attempt to stop panicking. Her eyes darted around the room, trying to make sense of what she saw. To convince herself that she did not see that man she looked out the window again. Lacy sighed with relief as no such man could be seen anymore. This left her with the conclusion that she was now going insane, and seeing things. Hastily, she left the room and continued to calm herself down by making a cup of tea. Tea was quickly becoming her remedy to everything, and she frequently drank it throughout each day to steady any nerves or to offer comfort.
This article is about the criminal defense. For other uses, see Mistaken Identity (disambiguation).
Mistaken identity is a defense in criminal law which claims the actual innocence of the criminal defendant, and attempts to undermine evidence of guilt by asserting that any eyewitness to the crime incorrectly thought that they saw the defendant, when in fact the person seen by the witness was someone else. The defendant may question both the memory of the witness (suggesting, for example, that the identification is the result of a false memory), and the perception of the witness (suggesting, for example, that the witness had poor eyesight, or that the crime occurred in a poorly lit place).
Because the prosecution in a criminal case must prove the guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant must convince the jury that there is reasonable doubt about whether the witness actually saw what he or she claims to have seen, or recalls having seen. Although scientific studies have shown that mistaken identity is a common phenomenon, jurors give very strong credence to eyewitness testimony, particularly where the eyewitness is resolute in believing that their identification of the defendant was correct.
Researchers like Elizabeth Loftus have challenged eyewitness testimony based on the fact that people's memory can be distorted. In her study she questioned eyewitnesses about a videotape of a car accident. Witnesses were asked "How fast were the cars going when they hit each other?" However, some witnesses were asked the same question with the verb "hit" replaced by the verb "smashed". Those who were asked the question with "smashed" as the verb said the cars were moving faster than those who were asked the same question with the verb "hit." Additionally, when asked if there was broken glass at the scene, those who heard "smashed" were more likely to say there was than those who heard "hit." There was no broken glass in the videotape. Hers is only one example of studies that show memory can be susceptible to distortions.
With genetic fingerprinting and DNA evidence now commonplace, many convictions based on eyewitness testimony are being re-examined. According to statistics, over 75% of the cases of DNA exonerations have involved mistaken eyewitness identification.
Abraham Lincoln used mistaken identity to defend William "Duff" Armstrong in 1858. He used a farmer's almanac to prove that a witness could not have seen Armstrong in the moonlight, as the position of the moon that night would not have provided sufficient illumination. Armstrong was acquitted.
A famous case of mistaken identity in the United Kingdom is the case of Adolf Beck, who served several years in prison as a swindler, was released upon completion of his sentence, and then arrested again on the same charges before the actual swindler of similar appearance was apprehended.
Another case demonstrating mistaken identity is the case of Ronald Cotton. In 1984, Jennifer Thompson was raped. During the attack, she studied the attacker's face, determined to identify him if she survived the attack. When presented with a photo lineup, she identified Cotton as her attacker. Twice, she testified against him, even after seeing Bobby Poole, the man who boasted to fellow inmates that he had committed the crimes for which Cotton was convicted. After Cotton's serving 10.5 years of his sentence, DNA testing conclusively proved that Poole was indeed the rapist.
Thompson has since become a critic of the reliability of eyewitness testimony. She was remorseful after learning that Cotton was an innocent man who was sent to prison. Upon release, Cotton was awarded $110,000 compensation from the state of North Carolina. Cotton and Thompson have reconciled to become close friends, and tour in support of eyewitness testimony reform.
After Cotton's release, Poole pleaded guilty to raping Thompson, but never responded to any of her letters. He died in prison in 2000.
The SODDI Defense ("Some Other Dude Did It" or "Some Other Dude Done It") is often used when there is no question that a crime occurred, such as in murder or assault cases, where the defendant is not asserting self-defense. The SODDI defense in a murder, rape or assault case is often accompanied by a mistaken identity defense and/or an alibi defense. Another common scenario where the SODDI defense is available is where the police find contraband in a car or residence containing multiple people. In this scenario, each person present could assert that one of the other people possessed the contraband.
The defense does carry a risk: It may be legal in some jurisdictions to falsely assert ones innocence while it is illegal to falsely blame another person for the crime.
In Holmes v. South Carolina, 547 U.S. 319, 126 S. Ct. 1727, 1731, 164 L. Ed. 2d 503 (2006), the Supreme Court held that a South Carolina statute that prohibited putting on a SODDI defense when the state's case was "strong" violated the Sixth Amendment right to put on a defense.
Another example of SODDI defense was the case of Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who was indicted for obstructing justice and making false statements to a government agent and a grand jury.
One variation of the SODDI defense is the Trojan horse defense in cybercrime cases. The main argument is that a virus or malware is responsible for the defendant's actions.
- Elizabeth Loftus. "Make-believe memories," American Psychologist (November 2003).
- Jennifer Thompson. "I Was Certain, But I Was Dead Wrong" The Houston Chronicle (June 20, 2000)