Cognitive bias could be highly detrimental to the criminal investigation process. One of the first steps to avoid different kinds of bias is to have knowledge of them (Ditrich, 2015). It is equally vital to be able to identify them. In this essay, Robin Adams’ murder case will be examined for bias in the process of investigation.
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The case of Robin Adams’ murder seems to be affected by bias in several instances. The first moment is when the police seem to have given too much credit to the rumors of the victim’s alleged escape to California. This might illustrate contextual bias that might have led the police officers to believe in the disappearance of Adams due to the insufficiency of reliable data that would have suggested otherwise.
Together with the absence of such evidence and the inability to disprove the originality of the letter to Garza, the police settled and turned the case into a cold one. Such an event may illustrate the expectation bias when evidence was not thoroughly examined and not all possible evidence sources were uncovered. In addition to that, the search of the premises was apparently conducted improperly as later investigations identified the different soil textures and colors in the burial pit.
On the other hand, the police of a small town such as Caro had little resources for a full-scale investigation due to being overburdened with more pressing matters. The next biased decision that further delayed the conviction of the murderer is the overzealous belief in the chain of events that led to the murder. This again illustrates the bias of expectation. Failure to recognize that other scenarios could have been possible misled the investigation.
Thus, the case of Robin Adams presented several cognitive biases. Contextual bias surfaced in taking into account the rumored information. The bias of expectation was evident in the situation with failure to search for more evidence and inability to believe that other murder scenarios were possible.
Ditrich, H. (2015). Cognitive fallacies and criminal investigations. Science & Justice: Journal of the Forensic Science Society, 55(2), 155–159.