Commonwealth v. M.E.
Philadelphia police investigating the sale of narcotics utilized a confidential informant on three separate occasions to purchase large amounts of heroin. Police alleged that M.E. was involved in each of the transactions, and that he was seen accepting money from co-defendants and that he was using a particular residence as a “stash house.” Police then executed a search warrant on the properties involved and found large amounts of cash, heroin, pills and packaging materials. M.E. was arrested at one of the properties and identified as being involved in the transactions with the confidential informant, charging him with possession and selling of illegal drugs. Police also allegedly seized a key to the property from M.E. At trial, the defense challenged the officers’ ability to identify M.E. during their investigation due to the distance they were making their observations, and because there were usually multiple young Cambodian males present. The defense introduced a picture of another Cambodian male who had ties to the property and who looked very similar to M.E. When confronted with the picture, the investigating officer mistakenly identified M.E. as the male in the picture. This clearly demonstrated his inability to make a reliable identification of the individuals who were selling heroin.