While this was prompted by another news story surrounding the Trayvon Martin shooting, my question is more generalized regarding ANY witness (of ANY case) testimony.
Trayvon Martin shooting: Witnesses change stories ahead of Zimmerman trial
The debate question:
What witness account is more likely closer to the truth? That given as soon as the police interview each individually or later on (whether days, months, or even later when the trial comes to court?)
Do you believe that the media attention given in a high profile case tends to shape witness accounts?
I think the media has greatly affected this case and people are now afraid to stand up and say what they really saw because of public pressure. The original statements made before they knew it was going to be tried in the media are much more credible.
Mom to Lee, Jake, Brandon, Rocco
Stepmom to Ryan, Regan, Braden, Baley
Granddaughters Kylie 10/18/2010 & Aleya 4/22/2013
I never consider a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosopy, as a cause for withdrawing from a friend. --Thomas Jefferson
I think it is a combo of both. Right after and also upon thinking about it. I was just reading something about a man who told police that he saw someone rob a business when it was actually another man. Years later he saw their mug shots side by side and realized his mistake. So sometimes, after seeing comparisons, they can get a more accurate story too.
Mom to E and C
It's a combination of both. Sometimes immediately after you are still in shock or confused. Given time to calm down and think about it can give clarity to a situation.
I was in a car accident on Friday. Hours later DD1 asked what color the other vehicle was. I froze for a second and had no idea. After more time to process the whole scene and calm down, the details came into focus.
I remember with the Trayvon case one of the witnesses early on said the police corrected her in her interview with them. So the influence all the way around may have a big impact. Really, I'm just glad it is going to be brought to a jury to hear all the witnesses and see all the evidence.
I do give a lot of credibility to his GF in that cell phone records show he was on the phone with her and her statement that someone was following him is consistent with Zimmerman's statement to the 911 operator.
I think the media hype surrounding this case will make it very hard to try. I read today that 4 different witnesses have changed their accounts since that night, all 4 in ways that could be damaging to Zimmerman. I am not sure which story is correct, but I think the truth is probably somewhere in the middle of the 2 stories
Molly, Morgan, Mia and Carson
To the extent eyewitness testimony is considered reliable at all, the closest testimony would be that given as close to the event as possible. The "excited utterances" have a potential to be reliable as the witness has not had a chance to reconsider the story, think of a lie, or process the story through their own experiences.
While most people think having an eyewitness it the end all, for the most part eyewitnesses are the least reliable of all evidence. People lie, intentionally or not, people by nature will often tell an interviewer what they think the interviewer wants to hear, most importantly, even when trying to be honest, we process what we see through our own value system, our own experiences or our own opinions, our own view points.
Studies have been made of eyewitnesses to traumatic events, or events for which there were many witnesses, such as the shooting of MLK, 9/11, etc. In those studies many people witnessed one single event all had different recollections and told a different story.