Dateline: September, 2008, Issue 2

How does viewing a crime scene videotape affect jury verdicts?

Kassin and Garfield (1991) investigated whether jurors are influenced by crime scene videotapes. As part of the presentation of a murder case, some jurors viewed a crime scene videotape of close-ups of a bloodied young man who had been stabbed to death and left lying in the street. Other jurors did not see the crime scene video.

Jurors viewing the crime scene video did not perceive the crime as more violent than jurors not viewing the crime scene video.

However, jurors viewing the crime scene videotape set a lower threshold for conviction; that is, they responded with a lower figure to the statement "The defendant should be found guilty if there is at least a ____% chance that he committed the crime."

The researchers concluded that crime scene videos can prejudice the outcome of a criminal trial.

Source Kassin, S. M., & Garfield, D. A. (1991). Blood and guts: General and trial specific effects of videotaped crime scenes on mock jurors. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 21, pp. 1459-1472.