gorilla video used in a murder trial

To my knowledge, this is the first time that the gorilla/basketball video has been shown during expert testimony in a court case. Unfortunately, at least from the description in the article, it seems like the point of the video and demonstration wasn’t particularly relevant to the case.

The trial is in New Zealand, and the video was shown by Dr. Joseph Sakdalan, a clinical psychologist in Aukland, on behalf of the defense. The man on trial allegedly drove over the victim after grabbing her purse. According to the defense lawyer, “He didn’t think what he did was likely to kill. He didn’t realise she was so badly injured until the 6pm news that night.” To me, that implies that he knew he was driving toward the victim, but just wasn’t trying to kill her (the defense is arguing for manslaughter). Oddly, if that is what happened, then the gorilla video was completely irrelevant to the case; if he knew that he was going to bump her with the car, that means he DID see her and this wasn’t an example of inattentional blindness at all. It was just a case of bad judgment (not surprising that he had lousy judgment — he had just tried to grab her purse).

If it wasn’t really relevant to the case, I’m not sure why this expert was allowed to use it in testimony. I’m also not sure what point the expert was trying to make, other than that people sometimes don’t see things. But, at least according to the quote from the defense lawyer, that wasn’t even the claim the defense was making. Strange.

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