First Illinois Criminal Case of 2018: Appellate Court Affirms Murder Conviction Where Only Eyewitness Recanted at Trial

This case is necessary reading if you’re going into a single eyewitness case where the witness may “flip” and deny even being at the scene of the crime at all, much less recant an identification.

In this case, the defendant was convicted under those circumstances, where three main issues were raised on appeal:

The first was that the court’s initial instruction during voir dire regarding reasonable doubt. The trial judge made a comparison between the civil standard of preponderance of the evidence, describing it with a tip of the scales. The judge then mentioned proof beyond a reasonable doubt, saying that it is the highest burden of proof. Since there was no objection made, this was reviewed under a plain error standard, and the court found no error.

It would be interesting to see what would happen if there was an objection or perhaps some motion practice regarding the continued refusal by Illinois to define reasonable doubt.

The second was a complaint against a number of things said by the State in closing argument, all of which were not objected at trial. Hence, there was again a plain error analysis.

The third issue was a reasonable doubt argument based on the recanted testimony of the State’s only eyewitness. There is a long discussion of the law in this area, including a discussion of each of the eyewitness identification factors that go into such a case and concluded that a rational jury can find the defendant guilty.

As a result, the defendant’s conviction was affirmed.

The case is People v. Green.

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