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Video problems undermine trials

Prosecutors have been twice burned this week by apparent mishandling of their video evidence.

First we learned about a cross-examination that weakened the prosecution’s re-enactment video in a Chesapeake murder case.  Now comes word that video bungling has brought a mistrial in another murder case, this one in Henrico.

In the Chesapeake trial of a man charged with killing a police officer, a detective was forced to admit on the stand that a police re-enactment video was inaccurate in a critical detail.  The Virginian-Pilot reports the officer conceded that the video did not correctly depict the all-important “knock-and-announce” as police arrived at the home of the accused.

Today, the Richmond Times-Dispatch has word on a mistrial declared in the case of a Henrico County man convicted of killing his girlfriend.  It seems the jury was allowed to view a videotape interview with the defendant, including portions the judge had ruled inadmissable.

Thinking of using video evidence at court?  Be very afraid.

By Peter Vieth, with a tip of the hat to Ride The Lightning