The case of State v. Harrington
In this case, a retired Council Bluffs, Iowa, police officer was killed while working as a security guard for a car dealership. Captain John Schweer
was killed by a shotgun on the morning of July 22, 1977. The key witness, Kevin Hughes, testified that Terry Harrington and another man were going
to steal a car, and killed Schweer in the process.
Harrington has declared his innocence ever since he was convicted over 20 years ago.
Harrington claimed that he was at a concert that night and
after the concert, he went out driving with friends. Witnesses testified to his alibi, but the jury believed Hughes.
Harrington was convicted
to life without parole and has sat in the Iowa State Penitentiary making appeals ever since, but with no success.
To make matters more complex, the prosecution's witnesses are starting to say that they lied. Hughes came forward and said that he had lied at
Harrington's trial because he did not want to be charged with murder and because he thought he was going to get reward money. Another witness,
Candace Pride, stated that she agreed with Hughes because she was Hughes's girlfriend at the time. Also, Clyde Jacobs stated that he agreed to
testify against Harrington to stay out of trouble.
On March 12, 2001, Harrington's motion for a new trial was rejected.
Is Brain Fingerprinting valid??? How does it work???
Iowa-based neuroscientist Lawrence Farwell, however, is eager to see his "brain fingerprinting" work get into more courtrooms, convinced as he is
that it has a near-perfect accuracy rate.
His method focuses on a specific electrical brain wave, called a P300, which activates when a person sees a familiar object. The subject wears a
headband of electrodes and faces a computer screen, which flashes photos.
This technique provides a potential window into someone's past visual experience. If a person looks at random pictures of weapons, without activating
a P300 wave, these objects are presumably unknown to him. But if the murder weapon is shown, and a P300 wave activates, then the person clearly has
some experience with that weapon.
His "brain fingerprinting" helmet of electrodes is currently available within the CIA, Farwell said, though he doesn't know if or how often it's
The CIA, scandalized by discoveries of double-crossers within its ranks, is funding much of the lab work, along with science foundations.
The FBI and other law-enforcement groups are hiring some of these scientists as consultants, and asking them to train staff in new techniques.
Unlike the polygraph or lie detector to which it is often compared, the accuracy of this technology lies in its ability to pick up the electrical
signal, known as a p300 wave, before the suspect has time to affect the output.
"It is highly scientific, brain fingerprinting doesn't have anything to do with the emotions, whether a person is sweating or not; it simply detects
scientifically if that information is stored in the brain," says Dr Farwell.
"It doesn't depend upon the subjective interpretation of the person conducting the test. The computer monitors the information and comes up with
information present or information absent."
"In research with the FBI, we presented words and phrases that only an FBI agent would know and we could tell by the brain responses who was an FBI
agent and who was not; we could do that with 100% accuracy,"
says Dr Farwell.
The crimes for which Jimmy Ray Slaughter is sentenced to death took place in a house that he is very familiar with. The results were
"Jimmy Ray Slaughter did not know where in the house the murder took place; he didn't know where the mother's body was lying or what was on her
clothing at the time of death - a salient fact in the case," says Dr Farwell.