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  • Writer's picturePeter Lindstrom, Esq.

The Perils of False Identification in Murder Cases: The Frank Lee Smith Story

The gripping tale begins with the brutal rape and murder of a nine-year-old girl, a crime that shook the community to its core. Amidst the chaos and desperation for justice, Frank Lee Smith found himself embroiled in the web of suspicion. He became the prime suspect merely for being seen around the block in the days following the crime. Tragically, Smith bore a resemblance to a serial killer linked to the case, setting the stage for an egregious miscarriage of justice.

Coercion on a Witness

The pivotal moment arrived when Chiquita Lowe, only 19 years old at the time, became the sole confident identifier of Smith as the perpetrator. However, the circumstances under which her identification occurred were rife with coercion and pressure from law enforcement. Police, grappling with weak evidence, leveraged Lowe's uncertainty, pushing her to make a definitive identification. This tactic, while expedient for their investigation, shattered the reliability of her identification.

The Actual Perpetrator Continues Committing Crimes

As the case unfolded, the horrors compounded. The true culprit, Eddie Lee Mosley, a serial offender responsible for 17 murders and 60 rapes, continued his reign of terror even after Smith's wrongful conviction. It was a nightmare scenario where justice failed not only Smith but countless other victims of Mosley's vicious crimes.

The Sole Eyewitness is Shown a Picture of the Actual Perpetrator

The revelation of truth emerged years later through an unexpected turn of events. A private investigator, working tirelessly for Smith's defense, exposed Chiquita Lowe to a picture of Mosley. Her visceral reaction, trembling and shaken, unveiled the stark reality: Mosley was the actual perpetrator. Overcome with guilt, Lowe attempted to rectify her mistaken identification, but the system resisted.

The DNA is re-tested, but not Under the Circumstances You Would Expect

The legal battle that ensued was marked by unnecessary resistance from the prosecution. Despite Lowe's recantation and mounting doubts about Smith's conviction, the state vehemently opposed re-evaluating the evidence. It took the unlikely saving grace of Detective John Curcio, who against the tide, preserved DNA evidence that ultimately exonerated Smith and implicated Mosley. The crazy thing is that Detective Curcio wasn’t even involved in the case. There was no court order to look at the DNA evidence. But he had listened over the years to the Detective Doug Evans who had been insistent that Eddie Lee Mosley was responsible for multiple murders in the area, but who nobody in the police department listened to. That all changed when Detective Curcio submitted the DNA for testing just because he respected Doug Evans. If you wish to learn more about this story, PBS did a tremendous documentary on it called "Requiem for Frank Lee Smith".

Challenge the Identification

The profound lesson embedded in this harrowing saga is the catastrophic impact of false identification on the lives of the wrongfully accused. Smith's case underscores the dire need for stringent procedural adherence in eyewitness identifications, especially when vulnerable to external pressures.

For the falsely accused, the imperative lies in challenging the reliability of identifications obtained through flawed methods. Ensuring contested hearings and zealous advocacy can be the crucial difference between justice served and a life lost to wrongful incarceration.

Murder cases require special focus and attention.


If you or a loved one are charged with murder, make sure you hire an attorney who focuses on defending murder. An attorney who primarily does DWI defense likely isn’t the best attorney for your murder case. Contact Subzero Criminal Defense and I may be able to start working on your case as soon as today. 651-248-5142. Subzero Criminal Defense provides a defense with intelligence, creativity, and grit.


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