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Supreme Court refuses to hear appeal from Texas man put on death row through the use of hypnosis

The US Supreme Court declined an appeal from a Texas death row inmate convicted through the use of witness testimony obtained through hypnosis, a pseudoscientific process of which experts question its validity, the Dallas Morning News reports.

Charles Don Flores was sentenced to death for the 1998 murder of Betty Black after his conviction in a trial in which a witness claimed she saw two men enter Black’s house.  The witness had been hypnotised by police investigators in an effort to get more details about what she claims to have seen.

Experts, however, question the legitimacy of testimony by witnesses who have been hypnotised by investigators, saying that the use of hypnosis can consequentially lead the hypnotist to inject false memories into the witness’s account or warp the witness’s memories of an incident.

Most states do not allow witnesses who have been hypnotised from testifying in trials or use the evidence obtained through hypnosis into trials.  Texas, however, has used such evidence and testimony into hundreds of cases, resulting in imprisonment or even death sentences for defendants.

“There are other quasi-science [methods] that were used in the guilt phase of trial that would not withstand scrutiny,” Flores’s lawyer Gretchen Sween said. “We’re challenging the fundamental fairness of the entire trial.”

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