Prosecutors drop charges in South Baltimore robbery
Rosaly said he graduated from high school and had a basketball scholarship to a community college in New Jersey, but returned to Baltimore when he injured his leg. He said he was fired from his job at Burger King after he was arrested, and that police ransacked his house and seized his last $800, which he has yet to get back.

"Everybody is eyeing me," said Rosaly, who got out of jail Wednesday night. "My picture was all over TV. What happens to me now? Who is going to hire me? I'm the guy on television who was robbing people."

He said he had a hard time convincing his own family he was innocent, and that his 65-year-old grandmother with a bad heart came down from New York to attend his bail hearing, only to watch a judge order him held without bond.

Rosaly said he and Maultsby had been on their bikes in Federal Hill and Riverside earlier Friday, but well before the robbery. The videotape from Maria D's shows him in the restaurant on Saturday from 12:47 a.m. to 1:42 a.m.

He said he walked home with another friend and was stopped by police near his house on Leadenhall Street. He said he could make out two people in the back of one squad car and that police turned a spotlight on his friend and then on him.

"I heard the officer say about my friend, 'He's good, he can go,'" Rosaly recalled. "Then the cop said about me, 'We got a confirmed suspect.' The officer told me, 'I hope you got a lawyer and a lot of money, because you're going away for a long time.'"

A police report says the victims described the suspects as black males, one with a darker complexion than the other, with the gunman wearing dark clothing, jeans, a do-rag on his head and a black hoodie. Rosaly said he was wearing a navy blue jacket with a white shirt underneath — but no hood — sweatpants and a Muslim head covering. He is Hispanic; Maultsby is black.

Maultsby was arrested later on Saturday as he walked from a store to the house he shares with Rosaly. He said he hadn't heard about the robbery and that he too protested, to no avail. Both said they were locked up in a cell with seven other detainees and forced to sleep on the floor.

Both men blame police more than the victims for their arrests. "They just grabbed two people," Rosaly said. "They just wanted to make a case and do their job. But they didn't do their job."

Said Maultsby, "When do you arrest someone and then look for evidence? … How could those people think it was us?"

A myriad of factors complicate witness identifications, a topic that has been studied at length by criminologists and psychologists, and debated by judges all the way up to the Supreme Court.

"We try to make this an exact science even though it's not one," said Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott D. Shellenberger. He said he won't avoid taking a single-witness case to court, but conceded that such prosecutions "are difficult to prove."

The county prosecutor said that while some studies show that people thrust into life-and-death situations can't accurately recall events and faces, other theories show "they have a heightened sense of their surroundings. They're really paying attention because they know it matters."

Even how police show witnesses pictures of potential suspects is under scrutiny. The U.S. Department of Justice suggests that detectives show mug shots one at a time, instead of in a group, as Baltimore does. The theory is that a sequential showing forces witnesses to make a judgment about each picture, rather than comparing them together.

Defense attorneys routinely challenge witness identifications, and courts have increasingly allowed defendants to challenge the way in which police show photo arrays or conduct lineups.

Doyle, the former John Jay College researcher, said witnesses "are right a lot of the time. The problem is it's very difficult to tell the ones who are right from the ones who are wrong."

And Doyle said that a witness' certainty that he or she has picked the right suspect is often wrong: "There's lots of information that indicates that a witness' certainty is a very bad indicator of a witnesses' accuracy."

Misidentification cases in Maryland

•In August 2007, a police officer arrested a man in the rape of a Roland Park grandmother in her home after noticing the man's similarity to an artist's rendering of the suspect. Police said the 59-year-old victim then picked the arrested man from a photo array. But eight months later, DNA evidence prompted police to drop the case against the man who had been arrested and charge a different man, who was convicted and sentenced to life plus 93 years in prison in 2010.

•In 2002, a man who had served 20 years for raping an English teacher in Baltimore County — she had identified him as her attacker during the court trial — was set free after DNA evidence proved he was not the assailant. The victim had picked the suspect from a photo array, and two other people who lived in the Towson apartment building said they saw him there around the time of the attack. The same DNA evidence implicated another suspect, who is now serving a 20-year sentence.

•In 1993, DNA evidence cleared death row inmate Kirk Bloodsworth, who was twice convicted of raping and killing a 9-year-old Eastern Shore girl after two children said they saw him walking away from the scene. He was the first inmate in the nation to be cleared by forensic evidence after having been found guilty. He had served eight years in prison and has since become an advocate of increased use of testing. Another man was convicted of killing the girl and is serving life in prison.

Source: Baltimore Sun files

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