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Defendant has Right to Expert Witness


In criminal cases nowadays, much comes down to the evidence. The defense has the task of calling into doubt evidence the prosecution presents. When the prosecution relies heavily on technical evidence like shell casings, ballistics, cell phone records, or electronic data, having an expert witness to counter or question that evidence is very important. A recent case out of Dale County, Greene v. State of Alabama, shows just how important expert witnesses can be.

The accused in this case, Lorenzo Greene, was employed as a correctional officer. He dated a girl approximately eight years younger than he. Their relationship went well until Greene lost his job. At that time, things went south very quickly and the girl moved out.

One day, the girl left her work late at night and drove home. When she got out of her car, she was shot in her side, arm, and back. She did not see who shot her or see anyone leave the scene.

When the police arrived, they asked the girl’s mother if she knew any potential suspects. The mother immediately named Greene. The next morning, the police questioned Greene. Mr. Greene stated that around the time of the shooting, he was just leaving his house to head to his grandmother’s residence. While on the way there, Greene’s friend called him to let him know that his ex-girlfriend had been shot. Greene was apparently shocked to hear this information, and immediately drove to his friend’s house.

According to Greene, while at his friend’s house, he called the girl’s mother check his ex-girlfriend’s condition. The mother immediately accused Greene of shooting her daughter. When questioned by police, Greene denied any involvement in the shooting. The police obtained a search warrant for this cell phone records to attempt to rule him out as a suspect.

At that point, evidence began to call Greene’s innocence into question. The cell phone records showed that at the time of the shooting, Greene’s phone allegedly “pinged” off the cell towers near to where the girl was shot. Based on this evidence, a grand jury indicted Greene for attempted murder.

In preparing his case, Greene’s attorney found an expert witness to give an alternative explanation for the cell phone records. However, a week before trial, the witness said that he could not testify because his employer had not been paid by the state for a previous expert witness. As a result, Greene’s attorney asked the judge to delay the trial so that he could find another expert witness. The judge refused, and Greene was convicted of the lesser-included offense of assault in the second degree.

Greene immediately appealed to the Court of Criminal Appeals. The court reviewed the record and found that the trial court proceeding with the trial was an abuse of discretion that warranted reversal. Noting how important the expert witness was to presenting a credible defense, the appeals court reversed the decision and remanded the case for a new trial.

The moral of the story is that expert witnesses can be very important to putting together a successful defense. If you are charged with a crime, you deserve an attorney with experience in criminal law. Contact INGRAM LAW LLC at (205) 335-2640 for your criminal defense needs.

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