Factbox: The innocent perp

Wed May 18, 2011 6:59pm EDT

(Reuters) - Sometimes the subject of a "perp walk" turns out to be innocent. Here are a few cases where that happened.

RICHARD WIGTON

The Kidder Peabody trader was arrested on February 13, 1987, and led from his office handcuffed and crying. Two and a half years later, the insider trading investigations of Wigton and Timothy Tabor, another trader arrested that day, were called off. The New York Times noted the investigation was halted "with nary an apology" to Wigton and Tabor. Wigton retired in 1989 and died in 2008.

RALPH CIOFFI and MATTHEW TANNIN

The two former Bear Stearns hedge fund managers were arrested on June 19, 2008, on conspiracy and securities fraud charges related to the collapse of two funds they ran that lost $1.6 billion. Although they surrendered to officials, they were still subjected to a perp walk en route to their arraignment. After a month-long trial in which the defense called only three witnesses, Cioffi and Tannin were acquitted. "We're going home with the family for dinner, opening a bottle of wine and we're just going to relax," Cioffi told reporters after the verdict.

IRVING and CHRIS LORENZO

The rap mogul brothers, better known as Irv and Chris Gotti, surrendered to authorities in January 2005. They were charged with laundering more than $1 million in drug money through their music label, Murder Inc. "They don't call it gangsta rap for nothing," New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. When the brothers were acquitted in January 2005, the verdict resulted in "jubilant cheers and pandemonium," the New York Times reported. "I'm not mad. I love this country. But from day one, they had it wrong with me and my brother. I'm no criminal," Irv Gotti said.

ROBERT BLAKE

Though he was taken in an unmarked police car after being arrested at his sister's home, actor Robert Blake was still snapped by photographers as he was walked into Los Angeles police headquarters in 2002. Blake was wearing a white t-shirt, a green baseball cap and handcuffs. He was charged with shooting his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, outside of an Italian restaurant. The former TV detective was acquitted in 2005.

(Reporting by Erin Geiger Smith; Editing by Eileen Daspin)

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Comments (4)
Jzyehoshua wrote:
It should be innocent until proven guilty. There’s a reason 75% of DCFS cases are overturned on appeal – it’s very easy for a guy to be accused of rape and found guilty on zero evidence – it happens all the time. The Duke Lacrosse players incident would be a great example of initial public outrage only to find that they were innocent of the charges. In such emotional cases, people tend to think ‘guilty until proven innocent’. Furthermore, why are so many on Death Row found innocent via DNA evidence? Clearly our system is not putting the right people behind bars, judges and prosecutors are not being held accountable and weeded from the system after corruption, and this may well be due to many false sexual accusations which require lower or non-existent levels of proof.

May 19, 2011 11:17am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Jzyehoshua wrote:
Whether that is the case with Strauss-Kahn of course is still to be decided, but too many people lack the ability to withhold judgment until all the facts are out, even in commenting on these articles. Even if it was consensual and not rape, I for one will be happy to see Strauss-Kahn leave, since that lack of faithfulness to his wife would be indicative of unfaithfulness to the IMF.

May 19, 2011 11:18am EDT  --  Report as abuse
janpeter3 wrote:
Jzyehoshua: DNA evidence is very poorly presented by both sides in the legal system. The prosecution (in the UK) will present a 1 in 100,000 match as being ’1 in 100,000 chance that the defendant is innocent’. I have heard cases of sexual assault where a defendant has been convicted of a sexual assault because of a DNA match even when the defendant has a cast-iron alibi. It is incredibly easy to cross contaminate a crime scene (accidentally or deliberately) with DNA. For instance if a police officer arrests you then handles evidence there is a good chance some of your DNA may be transferred across.

Equally on the other side of the bench some of those found ‘not guilty on Death Row by DNA evidence’ have been released based on pretty spurious logic. If you’re caught on CCTV stabbing someone to death the fact that the prosecution can’t find your DNA on the knife does not automatically mean you’re innocent.

I’ve worked as a scientist for over 15 years now (my first degree was genetics) and the speed, 110% infallibility and 0.00000% chance of any lab tech making any error presented as fact by shows like CSI would be hilarious if it wasn’t that the general public believe it. In a courtroom it is probable that neither the jury, lawyers or judge have any real understanding of the limitations of DNA evidence.

One final thing to remember: in this case if semen was found on or in the maid it doesn’t prove rape- it proves sex happened. It doesn’t prove whether it was consensual or not.

May 20, 2011 8:57am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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