Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Why would an innocent person confess?

In an extremely rare pro-defense ruling, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals today overturned a murder conviction from Austin's infamous yogurt shop murders, declaring parts of a co-defendant's statements had been improperly read to jurors at trial without cross examination (See "Appeals court overturns yogurt shop conviction," Austin Statesman, May 24). Three judges dissented, saying the defendant's own videotaped confession was enough to convict. Though defendant Robert Springsteen claimed his confession was coerced, Judge Sharon Keller wrote that the defense offered no credible motive for why a defendant would falsely confess.

The dissenting CCA judges might ask Springsteen's co-defendant, Michael Scott, why someone might falsely confess: His statement was obtained after an Austin police officer held a gun to his head during the interrogation (See the photo.)

Perhaps Judge Keller and the dissenting CCA judges should start reading Professor Alan Hirsch's blog,
The Truth About False Confessions. There are a lot of reasons people falsely confess.

UPDATE: Here is the opinion and the dissent. More from the Stand Down Project.

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