"I have been actively involved in research for the past year as Dr. Hasel's criminology research lab manager. She got me very interested in research and the concept of wrongful convictions which is her specialty. Therefore, I knew I wanted to do a senior thesis on a topic related to wrongful convictions. I wanted to be a part of USP to have the funds available to make my research project as realistic as possible. I hope to improve both my research skills and writing skills this year as well as produce a study that could be published in the near future."
My two favorite subjects are research and criminology. In criminology, my main focus is on factors that could lead to a wrongful conviction. This includes things like false confessions, eyewitness misidentifications, the interrogation process, bad lawyering, etc.
Academic and Other Awards
- University Scholars Program Scholarship (2011-2012)
- Presidential Honor Roll (2010-2011)
- Dean's List (2009-2011)
- Phi Beta Kappa (2011)
- Phi Alpha Delta
- French Club
- Student Honors Organization
- Pre-Legal Honors Society
- Dr. Hasel's Research Lab
- North Florida Regional Medical Center
- Mock Trial Awards
Volunteer work associated with Phi Alpha Delta. Volunteer at the animal shelter Haile's Angels.
Hobbies and Interests
- Golf, tennis, rock climbing, swimming, reading, football, and basketball.
Jurors' Perceptions of Evidence Interactions
As of August 2011, over 270 prisoners have been exonerated by DNA testing with the help of the Innocence Project. Eyewitness misidentification is a factor in over 75% of wrongful conviction cases and false confessions are a factor in 25% of these cases. Recent research has examined the phenomena by which evidence during a criminal investigation might be tainted by the presence of other evidence (e.g., Hasel and Kassin, 2009, Smith and Hasel, 2011). Specifically, it has been found that eyewitnesses can be be led to make a particular identification or change their confidence in an identification if they are aware of other incriminating or potentially exonerating evidence, such as a confession. What I plan to study is how juries perceive the testimony of an eyewitness who only testifies because he/she has been informed that the defendant confessed. Will jurors be able to recognize that the eyewitness’ testimony was tainted? Also, how will it affect their likelihood of guilt ratings of the defendant? Mock jurors will be asked to view a video of a criminal trial and then will be asked to make judgements about the evidence presented and about the defendant's guilt. The evidence will include an eyewitness who was unsure about her identification until she was told by a police detective that the defendant had confessed. I believe the results will show that jurors do not understand the importance of evidence interactions and that they will treat the confession and the eyewitness testimony as separate pieces of evidence instead of interacting pieces of evidence. If this is the case, this research could lead to important policy implications for the criminal justice system regarding eyewitness testimony and reform. It could also enhance our understanding of factors that lead to wrongful convictions.