Plaid jacket results in overturned conviction for man charged with sex crime
The NJ Supreme Court ordered a new trial for a Trenton man who allegedly exposed himself to a teenage girl, ruling it was improper for police to put a plaid jacket on the suspect when being identified by the 14-year-old witness.
The court overturned the conviction of Howard Jones, who had been arrested wearing a dark T-shirt in 2009. However, the 14-year-old teen and another witness had spotted the now 49-year-old man wearing a blue and white plaid jacket moments after the March 24, 2009 crime, NJ Advance Media reported.
Police arrested Jones and confiscated a blue and white plaid jacket that was on the ground nearby. When the suspect was brought to the girl's school so that she could identify him, she initially said she didn't recognize him as the man who exposed himself. However, when officers placed the plaid jacked on Jones, the teen said she "realized it was him," according to the court's decision.
Following a jury trial, Jones was convicted and sentenced in 2011 to five years in prison for third degree endangering the welfare of a child and and fourth degree criminal sexual contact, the court report states. He was released from prison in 2014.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Count decided the officers' decision to bring Jones to the teen's school for a "show up" identification was "impermissibly suggestive" and found that "that lower courts erroneously analyzed the identification," NJ Advance Media reported. The story further states that according to the high court, "the use of the plaid jacket in this showup rendered the showup and the identification evidence that it generated a violation of defendant's due process rights, requiring a new trial."
The conviction was reversed and a new trial has been ordered.
Toniann Antonelli is the digital managing editor for news at NJ 101.5. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.