Police lineup raises queries

  • Follow Metro

ATLANTA --- James Edward Parham, the man whose DNA has been linked to the rape of a 74-year-old west Georgia woman, was in the police lineup that the victim inspected after she was attacked.

Back | Next
John Jerome White (center) stands in a police lineup. He was exonerated by DNA evidence after almost 30 years in and out of prison. DNA points to James Edward Parham (far right) as the man who committed the rape. He has been charged with rape, aggravated assault, burglary and robbery of an elderly woman.  Associated Press
Associated Press
John Jerome White (center) stands in a police lineup. He was exonerated by DNA evidence after almost 30 years in and out of prison. DNA points to James Edward Parham (far right) as the man who committed the rape. He has been charged with rape, aggravated assault, burglary and robbery of an elderly woman.

The only problem: The victim didn't pick Mr. Parham out of the array. Instead, she selected John Jerome White.

After spending more than two decades in prison, Mr. White was released this week after DNA tests on hairs left at the scene cleared him of the brutal attack and implicated Mr. Parham. Mr. White has maintained for three decades that he was innocent.

Advocates say the coincidence provides some of the strongest evidence yet of the fallibility of eyewitness identification. Mr. White is the seventh person in Georgia and the 210th person nationwide to be exonerated by DNA after an eyewitness helped put him behind bars.

"If this doesn't raise questions, then I don't know what does" said Aimee Maxwell, of the Atlanta-based Georgia Innocence Project, which helped free Mr. White. "Here you had the guilty person standing right there, and the victim points to an innocent man."

Mr. Parham went on to be convicted of attacking another woman. He is on the state's sex offender registry for a 1985 rape.

It was only by a fluke that Mr. Parham was even in the Oct. 4, 1979, lineup. Police had their eye on Mr. White, who'd been arrested in a robbery and seemed to resemble the composite sketch the elderly rape victim had helped authorities make of her attacker. On the day of the lineup, Mr. Parham happened to be in the same jail on another charge and was one of those summoned by police to stand in the lineup, Ms. Maxwell said.

The victim's description of her attacker as slim doesn't seem to fit Mr. Parham, who looks stocky in the lineup photo. Ms. Maxwell said the woman wasn't wearing her prescription glasses when she was raped, making the ID even more unreliable.

The Georgia Innocence Project presented the new information about the lineup at a hearing Thursday of a state House study committee considering new training mandates for police officers in the state on how to conduct witness IDs. Mr. White, 48, appeared briefly at the hearing.

Comments (11) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
pofwe
5
Points
pofwe 12/14/07 - 06:05 am
0
0
"Police had their eye on Mr.

"Police had their eye on Mr. White, who'd been arrested in a robbery ..." Mr. White may be innocent of this rape but he was a thief ... who knows what else. Society was protected from this criminal by his incarceration. I feel for him but I can't reach him. He ain't no hero or innocent person. If you can't run with the big crime dogs, ... stay under the porch!

augustisew
0
Points
augustisew 12/14/07 - 06:22 am
0
0
pofwe lets say Mr. White was

pofwe lets say Mr. White was in jail for a speeding ticket, or failure to pay a ticket that day and remember just because your arrested that doesn't mean your guilty better yet lets say it was you in his shoes, would you still be saying "If you can't run with the big dogs.. stay under the porch. I work in law enforcment and witnessess pick the wrong ones out all the time in line ups. If a good investigator but some effort in his or her work these problems could be avoided. That a long time to be locked up for a crime you didn't do. God bless you.

lawyerdude
35
Points
lawyerdude 12/14/07 - 07:33 am
0
0
I wonder how often they pick

I wonder how often they pick the guy in the middle?

pofwe
5
Points
pofwe 12/14/07 - 07:42 am
0
0
The fella has "dirty hands."

The fella has "dirty hands." Not prosecutable, but ... "karma?"

lulu
0
Points
lulu 12/14/07 - 08:04 am
0
0
I'm sure Mr. White used his

I'm sure Mr. White used his time in prison to improve himself.

dani
13
Points
dani 12/14/07 - 09:10 am
0
0
It appears the guy in the

It appears the guy in the middle is saying 'look at me".
This happened in Atlanta. The law-enforcement there has not exactly been the best-rated in the country

The Knave
24
Points
The Knave 12/14/07 - 09:31 am
0
0
pofwe -- Your comments are

pofwe -- Your comments are dopey. I think you need to be incarcerated so that society and the "justice" system is protected from your "kind." Maybe we can get King George II to take you under the porch for a little water-boarding session, and get your attitude corrected.

dani
13
Points
dani 12/14/07 - 09:36 am
0
0
Knave...A little

Knave...A little water-boarding would cure a lot of things.

pablobristly
0
Points
pablobristly 12/14/07 - 09:49 am
0
0
I agree with pofwe's initial

I agree with pofwe's initial comment. "Mr. White, who'd been arrested in a robbery..........", Those who commit crimes are more likely to commit again so, to say that this incarceration possibly prevented future crimes is right. Besides, I've worked in a jail and I can tell you that a more accurate statement is - Guilty until proven innocent.

big dog
1
Points
big dog 12/14/07 - 10:03 am
0
0
If they had put the right

If they had put the right person in jail the first time for the rape the guilty man would not have raped a second time,or god only knows how many times.

aw8ngjustice
22
Points
aw8ngjustice 12/15/07 - 12:07 am
0
0
That's right baroness. And

That's right baroness. And when jurors believe lying little girls and their crackhead "parents" over honest citizens there is something wrong with the system. And a judge that makes the statement "Nobody's lost anything here today." He did not give a crap about the young man who just got convicted and will spend the next 13 years in prison or his family who has paid thru the nose to corrupt lawyers, one of which is like a son to him. I hope they all burn in hell.

Back to Top

Top headlines

Historic building on Laney campus demolished

The demolition of the 89-year-old Cauley-Wheeler building on the Lucy C. Laney High School campus is over, but the plan for a building that will act as a link to the former site and its story has ...
Search Augusta jobs