Of Counsel

Legal Notes on Georgia and The South

Acquitted by an Afro

Posted by Maggie on December 5, 2007

There’s been a lot of talk these days about cross-racial identification. Particularly of whites having trouble correctly identifying blacks. In this case, I would guess there was a mostly black jury. Dionte Maxwell was on trial for murder after his previous conviction was overturned. He was accused of driving a car that ran into a late-night crowd and killed a man. He was just acquitted. And why?

“The state’s star witness, a police officer, said the suspect had a ‘Kid ‘N Play’ hairdo,” said Kenner, referring to the comedy rap team one of whom sported a tall, angled hairstyle known as a “high-top fade.”

“I brought in a Kid n’ Play poster and showed it to the jury, then [showed them] the picture of my client, who had an afro, and they just said, ‘no way,’” said Kenner, who spoke to jurors after the verdict was delivered

Observe Dionte’s attorney, Robert Kenner, with Dionte’s mugshot top and KidnPlay bottom:


(Thanks to the Daily Report for the article and picture.)  

 I think it’s a good point.  If someone saw the man in that mugshot, I can’t imagine them describing his hair as something other than an afro.  Being so specific, to describe it as a high-top fade, and then to see an afro, it seems like something like reasonable doubt.  But I wonder if that would’ve happened with an all-white jury. 


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