Blaming Another Suspect Defense Strategy
An article from The Jury Expert Blog discusses the defense strategy of blaming the crime on another suspect. Often times a criminal defense attorney will try to get a Not Guilty verdict by trying to pursued a jury that the prosecution has not met their burden of proof. A different strategy would be to offer an alternative story for the jury by pointing the finger at another suspect or suspects. There is nothing new to that strategy, criminal lawyers like Earl Rogers have been doing that for years. What is interesting about the research is that it appears jurors are more likely to find a defendant not guilty with the alternative suspect theory rather than the arguing the prosecutor has not meet their burden.
Researchers found that when jurors in a research project were given a scenario of an alternate suspect committing the crime it decreased a guilty verdict from 73% to 35%. The research also shows that jurors don’t have to really believe that the alternative suspect committed the crime in order to cause reasonable doubt. The mere introduction of an alternate suspect evidence seemed to raise reasonable doubt.
The research also shows that the alternative suspect strategy will back fire on the defense if the evidence on the alternative suspect is too weak. If the defense starts making accusations without credible evidence then the States case will actually get stronger in the jurors minds and the jurors will lose all confidence in the defense case. If defense counsel employs this strategy they better be very prepared to put on credible evidence or they will will do more harm than good.