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When Eyewitness Memory Is — And Isn't — Reliable

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Photo Illustration-Carlos Moreno
/
KCUR 89.3
Kevin Strickland's name is not among the 36 people listed for pardon from Gov. Mike Parson on May 31.

Law enforcement at every level should be applying a simple test to a witness' memory of a crime.

Eyewitness accounts of a crime can, like any piece of evidence, be contaminated. Why the only "uncontaminated" version of a memory is the very first time a witness tells what they saw and why assessing the confidence of that first telling is key. We examine how this applies to the only eyewitness account of the triple murder that saw Kevin Strickland erroneously convicted and sentenced to 50 years in prison.

  • John Wixted, Ph.D., distinguished professor of psychology at the University of California, San Diego
Steve Kraske is the host of KCUR's Up To Date. Follow him on Twitter @stevekraske.
Danie Alexander is the senior producer of Up To Date.
Zach Wilson is the associate producer for KCUR's Up To Date.