The Case of Frank Lee Smith
Psychology and Law
The case of Frank Lee Smith was a very interesting one and yet at the same time, a very sad one. An innocent man that was wrongfully convicted gave up 14 years, and eventually his life inside of a prison for a crime that he did not commit. Later it was found that he was actually telling the truth about the whole thing. According to the innocent project Frank Lee Smith died in prison on January 30, 2000 from cancer. The incident was in 1985, in which an 8 year old victim by the name of Shandra Whitehead had died from being struck in the head with a rock and strangled. After an autopsy report it was found that she was also raped and sodomized. Frank Lee Smith was identified by what the innocent project called “shaky eyewitness” identification. Frank Lee was arrested on April 29, 1985 because of Chiquita Lowe who had said that she saw him walking through the neighborhood earlier that day and he even flagged her down. The victim’s mother identified Smith as the person that left her home through a window the night of death. The defense tried to plea insanity but failed to do so and Smith was sentenced to death. After his sentence of death Frank lee Smith won a stay of execution in January 1990. Smith won the stay of execution case based on new evidence. While the trial was going on the Chiquita Lowe withdrew her previous statement because of a new photo that she was shown of a different man by the defense investigator. After trying to get a new trial many of times smith was granted one, but then later the prosecution saw no need to have the trial given that it would not help the prosecution anymore since it may hurt their case. Only after he died in prison was a sample of his DNA tested with the semen that was found on the victim’s vagina. Smith was finally exonerated of his crimes based on DNA results 11 months after his death. Smith was never released from prison, but the person who actually was guilty of the crime, was Eddie Lee Mosley, a known rapist and murder, was finally brought to justice. Also another man by the name of Jerry Frank Townsend spent 22 years of his life after confessing to two crimes that he did not do but which Eddie lee Mosley was later convicted of due to DNA evidence as well.
The research One of the biggest factors that were put on Smith’s case was the fact that the investigators told Smith that there was an eye witness that could identify him as the suspect who committed the crime, and that he should confess now and save them the trouble. This is a tactic used by the police to have a suspect confess to a crime regardless if they are guilty or not. If the officer believes they are lying they say this to get the person to tell the investigators what they want to hear. Smith was said to later confess to doing the crime of killing the 8 year old girl. What made this so powerful was that the investigators said this at the trial and this is what stuck out to the jury, his confession to the crime. Research done by Kassin (2010) does show that presenting false evidence, or in MR. Smith’s case telling him that they have an eye witness that can identify him, would make the most innocent person confess to a crime that they had nothing to do with. The study also goes on to show that giving a person false information or even just false feedback can alter the most innocent person’s beliefs and memories to have them believe that they actually did do that act even if they did not. There has been numerous of research that shows how this impacts the human mind for example there was a study that Kassin and Kiechel (2010) did where they took a group of college students and told the students that they are the reason that the computer crashed because they touched a key that they should not have. Kassin and Kiechel (2010) added another part to the study where a person says…