Eyewitness from a Far Distance Credibility In North Carolina

In State v. Miller, 270 N.C. 726, 154 S.E.2d 902 (1967), the Supreme Court of North Carolina held: Where there is a reasonable possibility of observation sufficient to permit subsequent identification, the credibility of the witness' identification of the defendant is for the jury, and the court's doubt upon the matter will not justify granting a motion for judgment of nonsuit, but upon the physical conditions shown here by the State's evidence, the motion should have been allowed. Id. at 732, 154 S.E.2d at 906. Specifically, in Miller, the State's evidence showed that the only eyewitness was approximately 286 feet away from the man he saw running near the scene of the crime. Id. at 732, 154 S.E.2d at 905. The eyewitness "saw this man run once in each direction, stop at the front of the building, 'peep' around it and look in the eyewitness' direction." Id. Six hours later, the eyewitness identified the defendant in a lineup. Id. The Supreme Court of North Carolina held as follows: Notwithstanding the fact that the exterior of the Oil Company building and the surrounding area were well lighted, it is apparent that the distance was too great for an observer to note and store in memory features which would enable him, six hours later, to identify a complete stranger with the degree of certainty which would justify the submission of the guilt of such person to the jury. Id.