Profiler Mark Safarik withdrew his testimony that helped cause a security guard to spend 11 years in prison wrongfully.
Jeffrey Ehrlich paused the true-crime television show every couple of minutes. The same thought kept running through the attorney’s mind: “No, that’s wrong.” The episode of “Killer Instinct” highlighted how the work of a retired FBI profiler had helped convict Ehrlich’s client of killing an 18-year-old woman in a parking lot, the Los Angeles Times reports. There were no fingerprints left behind, no murder weapon. But clues from the crime scene caught the profiler’s attention. The driver’s-side window of the victim’s car had been lowered several inches, suggesting to the profiler that the teen had rolled it down when someone who looked trustworthy approached. And her tube top was askew — a sign, the profiler said, of a botched sexual assault. “No, no, no,” Ehrlich said. He thought the episode — titled “Sudden Death” — needed a new name: “Here’s How We Convicted an Innocent Man of Murder.”
Years after the profiler’s testimony helped secure a murder conviction, the case against Ehrlich’s client, Raymond Lee Jennings, has unraveled in dramatic fashion. After reinvestigating the case, authorities now suspect gang members killed Michelle O’Keefe and that the motive was robbery, not sexual assault. The profiler, Mark Safarik, has withdrawn his testimony. A judge declared Jennings — the security guard who patrolled the lot the night of the murder — factually innocent, putting a capstone on a nightmare that included 11 years behind bars. The wrongful conviction renewed questions about the credibility of profiling and focused attention on the role played by Safarik, the star of the season-long television show “Killer Instinct,” whose testimony was considered crucial at Jennings’ trial. Safarik defended his analysis of the crime scene to the Times, saying he still harbors doubts about Jennings’ innocence. He agreed to withdraw his testimony, he said, after learning that homicide investigators hadn’t interviewed everyone who had been at the scene of the killing.