She didn’t learn that her rapist was actually Jerry Wayne Johnson until 2008, 13 years after Johnson wrote a letter to the district attorney’s office confessing to the crime — which Ms. Mallin said neither she nor Cole was told about — and nine years after Cole died in prison.
“I was very upset,” she said. “I didn’t know the police had kept it from me. The guy who raped me raped two other women the summer after he raped me.”
The cases of Ms. Mallin and Mr. Anderson eventually were resolved because of DNA testing. But biological evidence that can establish guilt or innocence only is available in about 10 percent of criminal cases, according to University of Virginia Law School professor Brandon Garrett, author of “Convicting the Innocent: Where Criminal Prosecutions Go Wrong,” and a key consultant on Virginia’s model eyewitness-identification policy.
“It’s a very sensitive task,” Mr. Garrett said. “If you do the lineup wrong, you can actually change the memory of the face they actually saw.”
Adopting relatively simple changes to improve procedures to help witnesses properly identify suspects is in everyone’s best interest, Mr. Garrett said.
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