February Spotlight An objective review of the record, in this case, the police investigation, and the additional new information that's been provided overwhelmingly support the conclusion that Jon-Adrian Velazquez was wrongfully convicted. We are confident that upon reinvestigation and evaluation of all the facts and circumstances of this case, you will conclude:
This case is the classic example of how an innocent person can be found guilty based on mistaken eyewitness identifications.
The police procedures utilized in the identification process unduly influenced the eyewitnesses and were replete with highly suggestive statements and conduct rendering the identification meaningless. The procedures used were neither double-blind nor sequential, which are two methods available to minimize the chances of a detective intentionally or unintentionally influencing the eyewitnesses' decision.
The scientific literature and recent studies reflect a broad consensus that the reliability of eyewitness testimony is highly dependent on police procedures used in conducting lineups (System variables) and other particular characteristics of the events, witnesses, and perpetrators that are beyond the control of law enforcement personnel and procedures (Estimator variables). In this case, both the System variables and Estimator variables render the eyewitness identifications utterly useless and unreliable.
The identifications made by witnesses reflect cross-racial bias. All the eyewitnesses were black and Jon-Adrian Velazquez is Hispanic.
The police failed to fill the lineup with individuals who even remotely reflected the physical and racial characteristics of the person described by eyewitnesses prior to their viewing the lineup. Every eyewitness initially described the shooter to the police as "male black". However, the lineup consisted of six men including Jon-Adrian Velazquez who is Hispanic. The five fillers were all Hispanic and three of the five appear Caucasian.
Of the four eyewitnesses who identified Mr. Velazquez, two have since recanted their identifications and the two remaining eyewitnesses have substantially qualified their identifications so as to render them inconclusive and hardly sufficient to prove guilt.
The police failed to conduct a thorough investigation of "Mustafa", a person identified as the shooter by multiple sources, or other men whose names were provided to the police as involved in the murder. There exists substantial evidence that "Mustafa" was the shooter, not Mr. Velazquez and this really cries out for further investigation
There are additional areas that require further investigation utilizing more sophisticated techniques and procedures than were available in 1998 including but not limited to examination of latent fingerprints and handwriting analysis of the policy slip on which the name "Tee" was written and vouchered as evidence.
In this case, justice cries out for Mr. Velazquez's complete and unequivocal exoneration.