In the last couple of years, Connecticut dramatically changed the way it handles eyewitness testimony. Research has raised doubts about the accuracy of eyewitnesses. Police are more cautious and prosecutors more wary of basing cases on one person's fallible memory.
Yet these reforms have apparently come far too late for George Gould and Gerry O'Donnell.
One of these men was convicted of a 1993 murder because a jury believed a single eyewitness. The other was convicted last week of bribery because a different jury didn't believe that very same witness.
"The scales of justice are not at all balanced," says David Cameron, a Yale University political scientist who was a member of a state task force that triggered those major eyewitness identification reforms.
Gould is in prison for the murder of New Haven bodega owner Eugenio Deleone Vega. He was convicted with Ron Taylor, who has since died of cancer.
The only thing linking Gould and Taylor to that killing was the testimony of a single eyewitness, a drug-addicted prostitute named Doreen Stiles. In 2006, she recanted her original testimony.
Stiles now says New Haven cops pressured her into ID'ing the two men, questioning her until she was going into withdrawal, and then giving her money for drugs when she told them what they wanted to hear.
O'Donnell is a private detective from Cheshire who was working to free Gould and Taylor. A former cop and investigator for the New Haven State's Attorney's Office, O'Donnell was convicted earlier this month of bribery and witness tampering.
The bribery charge was based on the fact that O'Donnell bought Stiles and her roommates in a nursing home a $200 TV because theirs wasn't working, and on claims he promised Stiles a share of any state settlement Gould and Taylor might get when their convictions were overturned.
State prosecutors convinced a jury that O'Donnell illegally influenced Stiles to change her story in the Vega case.
To help you keep track, here is a listing of the number of times and different ways Stiles "eyewitness" testimony has changed:
In the 1995 Gould and Taylor trial, Stiles testified she was outside the New Haven bodega, heard the gunshot that killed Vega, and saw Gould and Taylor walk out. It was only evidence linking them to the crime.
In 2006 and 2009, Stiles said her original testimony was a lie that police pressured her into telling.
In 2011, questioned by New Haven cops again and warned about possible perjury, Stiles said O'Donnell had "confused her" and convinced her to change her story. She said her original testimony was correct.
This year, at O'Donnell's trial (where she was granted immunity from any perjury prosecution), Stiles once again said her original testimony at the Gould-Taylor trial was false. You might say she recanted the recantation of her recantation. Apparently, the O'Donnell jury didn't believe her.
"The jury got it wrong," insists Cameron. In fact, he says both the juries involved in this convoluted case came up with erroneous conclusions based on trusting or distrusting an eyewitness.
"If you take all her testimony," Cameron says, "you could certainly argue she's unreliable."
Experts in Connecticut and across the nation are convinced that many people are now serving time for crimes they didn't commit because of faulty or false eyewitness testimony.
"There have to be a great number of people in prison... where the only evidence against them is an eyewitness," says David Borden, a former justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court. "There have to be a significant number of them that are innocent."
Borden, who chaired Connecticut's eyewitness identification task force, points to the nearly 300 documented instances where new DNA tests have overturned convictions in serious criminal cases.