Ruling allows expert testimony on reliability of eyewitness ID

    Pennsylvania criminal defendants are now able to offer expert testimony about the reliability of eyewitness identification following a decision by a divided state Supreme Court that overturned a 20-year prohibition against such evidence.

    The four-justice majority ruled Wednesday that Pennsylvania will join the great majority of states and federal courts when it comes to letting an expert tell jurors about research into eyewitness testimony.

    The court ruling outlines the conditions under which it can be allowed and puts the decision in the hands of trial judges.

    The case involves Benjamin Walker, who was convicted of a 2005 robbery of two University of Pennsylvania students in Philadelphia.

    • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

    The two dissenting justices argue a better approach would be to amend the instructions about eyewitness testimony that judges give juries before deliberation.

    WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal