Since its creation, Facebook has been the source of much controversy within the criminal justice system. Historically, Facebook has been a valuable tool for law enforcement to investigate and catch alleged criminals in Wisconsin and around the country.
Facebook has been credited with helping authorities solve cases ranging from computer sex crimes to lesser offenses involving individuals who were foolish enough to publically brag about their misdeeds on Facebook.
While the social media site has most often been an avenue for prosecution, Facebook recently played a role in helping two incarcerated men who may have been wrongfully convicted of murder.
Two brothers named Raymond and Thomas have already served almost 25 years in prison for the 1987 murder of a drug dealer at a home in Detroit, Michigan. The men say they were in the neighborhood that night, but had no connection with the drug dealer and never set foot in the house.
According to their attorney, an eyewitness had seen two white men enter the house and then flee moments after the sound of a gunshot was heard. Based on this eyewitness account, authorities assumed that Raymond and Thomas were the ones seen entering the house, and were therefore the murders.
Recently, however, a man came forward claiming to be one of the men actually seen entering the house that night. He heard about Raymond and Thomas’s case through a posting on Facebook.
The witness says that he was there that night with his friends to buy marijuana. However, when they stepped inside the house, they were confronted by a group of four or five African-American men. One man in the group allegedly put a gun to the witness’s head and told them to “Get the f— out of here.” He and his friends heard a gunshot when they were just outside the house, and that caused them to take off running.
Based on this man’s testimony, a judge has overturned the life sentences of Raymond and Thomas and the two men, now 46 years old, have been granted a new trial. It is a trial which their attorney feels confident about. Recently, she said: “The prosecution has absolutely no case.”
It seems Facebook can really bring people together and make the world a smaller place.
In this case, it may have helped two wrongfully accused men clear their name and regain their lives.
Source: CNN, “Brothers ‘elated’ to be free, thanks to Facebook,” Aug. 17, 2012