Judges assume that gruesome evidence can influence juror verdicts. Legal safeguards such as exclusionary evidentiary doctrines are in place to protect defendants against the misuse of visual gruesome evidence by jurors. However, little is known about the impact of gruesome evidence on juror decision-making. The current study investigated the hypothesis that convictions are more likely in cases in which gruesome evidence is admitted. When inculpatory evidence was held constant, 34.4% of mock jurors presented with gruesome evidence convicted the defendant, whereas only 13.9% of the mock jurors who reviewed no gruesome evidence did so. When inculpatory evidence was legally insufficient for conviction and gruesome evidence was presented, mock jurors rated the likelihood of the guilt of the defendant significantly higher compared with ratings from mock jurors to whom no gruesome facts were presented. The presence of gruesome facts also significantly enhanced the inculpatory value of one item in evidence.
Bright, D. A., & Goodman-Delahunty, J. (2004). The Influence of Gruesome Verbal Evidence on Mock Juror Verdicts. Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, 11(1), 154-166. https://doi.org/10.1375/pplt.2004.11.1.154