After 31 years in prison, a man is released for “misidentification”

Miami-Dade State’s Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said the case highlights the vulnerability of eyewitness identification. Mr James’s conviction was based primarily on the testimony of Dorothy Walton, Mr McKinnon’s stepdaughter, who was in the apartment and identified Mr James as the shooter after police put his picture in an identification session.

“I’m certain of it,” she testified at the trial, according to court documents. “I will never forget his face. I will never forget his eyes.

No physical evidence linked Mr James or anyone else to the crime, prosecutors said.

Over the years, Ms Walton began to waver in her certainty about Mr James, prosecutors said. Although reluctant to rehash the matter and fearing that Mr James would take revenge on her if he were released, she eventually ‘expressed concerns that she may have made a mistake’ and said that she “wouldn’t want to go to his grave with the possibility that she might have made a mistake,” court documents said. She told investigators that as a “good Christian” she would pray over it.

On April 12, after prosecutors subpoenaed her to give evidence under oath, Ms Walton told investigators she “now believes she made a mistake” in her identification of Mr James, and that she did not attributed his change to no “outside influence,” prosecutors said.

Ms Fernandez Rundle called it an ‘unfortunate case of mistaken identity’.

“Across the country, eyewitness testimony, in the absence of any forensic evidence, is always vulnerable,” she said.

Ms Fernandez Rundle added that another man named Tommy James told investigators he was watching Mr McKinnon’s flat with his cousin, Vincent Williams, for a possible robbery in the days before the murder.

That Tommy James, however, was behind bars when Mr McKinnon was killed, she said. Mr Williams later told Tommy James that he and another man had committed the robbery and murder. Mr. Williams has since died. The other man denied any involvement.

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