A7. Wouldn’t it be better to find evidence of innocence?

Famous ‘miscarriage of justice’ cases often feature a dramatic discovery of evidence showing that the convicted person couldn’t possibly have committed the crime. Unfortunately, in many cases of miscarriage of justice, actual proof of innocence is not available. This is one of those cases – due to the nature of the charges faced in the trial.

It was clear from the outset that the father did not fire the gun that killed the victim. That was done by the son – as shown by considerable evidence, as well as by his confession.

The issue in the current trial was whether the father made a pact with the son, whereby the son would pull the trigger, the father would inherit the wealth, and the two of them would share the proceeds.

Both the father and the son denied any such pact ever existed. But what kind of evidence can possibly prove that such a pact was not made?

Of course that is why we have the fundamental principle at the heart of our legal system: innocent until proven guilty.

The trial did not require the father to prove he did not make a pact. It required the prosecution to prove he did make a pact. The only ‘direct’ evidence they provided was the phrase ‘at the start we made a pact’ in a police transcript of an indistinct covert recording.

We know from other research how much one piece of erroneous evidence can influence a jury’s interpretation of a case. See Jon Gould et al: Predicting Erroneous Convictions.

For all the reasons outlined in this case study, I believe the jury was misled by this transcript. That means the trial did not really prove the father guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

So when I say I am not an advocate for his innocence, please don’t interpret that to mean I think he might be guilty. The proper conclusion at this point is that we just don’t know for sure. What we do know for sure is that his guilt has not been demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt – which means he should not have been convicted.

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