Convicted of: Robbery
Sentence: 75 to life
Years Served: 13
Cost to Taxpayer: $585,000
Stranger eyewitness identifications are the single leading cause of wrongful convictions in the world. Despite a high rate of error (roughly 1 in 4 stranger eyewitness identifications are wrong), they are still considered the most powerful evidence against a suspect. Such was the case against Guy Miles.
On June 29, 1998, around closing time, Trina Gomez and Maximilian “Max” Patlan were working at a Fidelity Financial Institution in Fullerton, California when two men, Jason Steward and Harold Bailey, committed an armed robbery. Bernard Teamer acted as the getaway driver and the three left and divided up the money.
Officers interviewed Trina and Max, but generated no leads other than very generic descriptions of the robbers. The lead detective created faulty photo arrays, with many of the photos not even matching the general descriptions. An expert on identifications later testified that based on the way the photo arrays were created it was likely Guy Miles would be selected because he was one of the few individuals in the lineup who matched the general description surrounded by photos of men who didn’t match the description. Nonetheless, the witnesses ultimately gave very shaky and uncertain testimony that Guy was one of the robbers.
At trial, Guy had a total of nine alibi witnesses, six of whom the judge allowed to testify, who stated that Guy was in Las Vegas at the time of the robbery. The witnesses included relatives, neighbors, and even his landlord. It took a jury five days of deliberation to find Guy guilty.
The California Innocence Project thereafter commenced an investigation into Guy’s claim of innocence. After nine years of investigation, we finally located the three true perpetrators of the robbery. They all came forward and confessed to the crime.
Sadly, despite discovering and unveiling the truth behind the robbery in a post-conviction evidentiary hearing in front of Guy’s original trial judge, Guy remains incarcerated for a crime he didn’t commit. The judge refused to reverse his conviction. While Guy continues to pursue his claims in the California and federal courts, clemency should be granted to end his nightmare of wrongful incarceration.
>>Read the next story, Quintin Morris.