Steve Weinberg

Steve Weinberg has reported on wrongful convictions for 30 years and served as executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors.

Recent Articles

Seeing Is Believing

Eyewitness testimony is unreliable and leads to wrongful convictions. Why has the judicial system not taken note?

(Flickr/Boston Bill)
On a Saturday night in July 1984, Jennifer Thompson, a 22-year-old, straight-A student at Elon College in Elon, North Carolina, returned to her apartment after attending a party. Thompson wasn’t feeling well and went to sleep. Her boyfriend left around 11 P.M. About four hours later, Thompson awoke with a man on top of her. He held a knife to her neck. He smelled of alcohol and cigarettes. Thompson screamed. “Shut up, or I’ll cut you,” the man threatened. Before, during, and after the rape, Thompson willed herself to study his features so she could increase the odds of identifying him later. She made mental note of his close-cropped hair, his small almond-shaped eyes, his high, broad cheekbones, his wisp of a mustache. When the rape was over, Thompson lured the man into the kitchen by promising to pour drinks for both of them. His attention briefly diverted, Thompson ran out the door to a nearby house. The neighbors called 911. Later, Thompson would learn that...