In March, 2016, we blogged on an Illinois Supreme Court case that opened the door to allowing experts to dispute the reliability of eyewitness testimony. (See How Reliable is Eyewitness Testimony?). Because of that case, People v Lerma, such an expert was permitted to testify in a Palatine murder trial, which resulted in a verdict of not guilty.

According to the Chicago Tribune (High court opens door to experts who say eyewitness IDs are unreliable), defendant Marco Lopez was accused of the 2014 shooting deaths of a man and his son. The state’s case relied primarily on eyewitness testimony. The state did not have a murder weapon, DNA or other physical evidence against the defendant.

One witness said they saw the defendant through a glass door about 10 feet away after midnight. Expert Geoffrey Loftus testified that conditions such as lighting, the length of an event and pre-event information could affect an eyewitness in recognizing someone they know. (Loftus conducts experiments on memory and sensory perception at University of Washington-Seattle). As a result, the jury acquitted the defendant.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. As with most crimes, the state has the burden to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt on all the elements of the offense. An attorney can review your case and determine which experts, if any, could help your defense. Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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