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Former Buccaneers TE Kellen Winslow II Could Not Be Identified at Court Hearing

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A strange development in an even stranger case.

Atlanta Falcons v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Winslow II did not look like this at his preliminary hearing on Wednesday.
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Back in June, former Buccaneers tight end Kellen Winslow II was arrested based off accusations of some downright disgusting crimes - namely rape and kidnapping. It was terrible news, but the hope was that the victims/accusers would get the justice they deserved.

Well, that thought may be put on hold now after a crazy - or disturbing - development that occurred on Wednesday during the first day of the preliminary hearing for the case.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, three of Winslow II’s accusers could not identify him in court. One stated that she was never able to get a good look at the man who exposed himself in her garden, the second flat-out said it wasn’t Winslow II (the court-version of Winslow II) who entered her home, and the third misidentified one of his defense attorneys as the assailant.

The latter misstep was a major development for Winslow II and his attorney Brian Watkins. Both are pictured below.

Winslow II and his attorney Brian Watkins, via NY Post

As you can see, there are some pretty noticeable changes to Winslow II.

Here is an even better example of Winslow II at his arraignment compared to the preliminary hearing on Wednesday.

Winslow II is accused of raping two women, exposing himself to a third, and entering the homes of two additional women, who the prosecution alleges that he was there to rape. He has pled not guilty to all eight felonies and one misdemeanor.

Regardless of where the case goes from here, this situation raises some interesting questions - outside of why a defendant is allowed to drastically change their appearance before they go to court.

Why are the accusers being asked to identify Winslow II in court after being unable to identify him through a photo lineup? Wouldn’t the prosecution be able to use the fact that he looks entirely different than in the past? Is the prosecution relying too much on appearance through eyewitness testimony? Is DNA evidence the only route left to go in order to convince the judge to take this case to trial? If that happens, wouldn’t that severely limit the prosecution’s case against Winslow?

Two more accusers are set to testify Thursday, so it’ll be interesting to see how that develops. In the meantime, we are left to ponder if the appearance tactic is an actual loophole in our justice system or just a really clever move by an expensive defense attorney.

And as always, there is the possibility he wasn’t identified because he is innocent.

Who knows how this all plays out, but for the victim’s safety and as well as everyone else, hopefully the right person is taken off the streets.