Monday, February 26, 2007

Blog: Texas appellate ruling will "invite false confessions"

The Truth About False Confessions found two things to dislike about the 14th Court of Appeals' ruling in the recently decided Laredo v. State. According to TTAFC, in that decision the court:
rejected a convicted defendant’s contention that his confession was coerced. The defendant claimed that he was promised leniency if he confessed, the Court observed, but “no such promise appears on the videotape of appellant’s statement.” Of course, very few detectives will make such a promise with the cameras rolling. That’s all the more reason to let them roll –during the entire interrogation, not just the confession itself.
I couldn't agree more about recording interrogations - that would do a lot to avoid coerced confessions, or he-said/she-said situations like this one where no one can no for sure whether a defendant was coerced. What's more, writes Professor Hirsch, the court found that
even if the detective made the alleged promise, it did not amount to improper coercion. The defendant testified that he was promised that, if he confessed, “I would not be held accountable for actions or something of that sort.” The court of appeals held that “this assertion is vague at best, and does not amount to a positive promise that would likely induce a false confession.”

In fact, as all false confession experts know, even subtle hints can be interpreted as implying leniency. To allow interrogators to make various assurances, as long as they stop short of “a positive promise,” is to invite false confessions.


Anonymous said...

February 5, 2007

Deborah Turner
PO Box 7512
Abilene, TX 79608
(325) 793-1005

In spite of his innocence, requests to Judge Wheeler for different attorneys and overwhelming pressure, I watched Moishe Turner take a plea, that was totally against all that we had planned and expected. I watched my family's horror that we saw no person of color in the approximately 250 person jury pool room as we went up for court.

I felt the horror that 15 year old Moishe's full face had been shown on KTXS/ABC three times daily when the shooting first occurred and as well as with every court hearing since. We also knew that Abilene fully attached Moishe's full name, address and face to the routine Reporter News stories of this crime. Moishe Turner was made the name and face of this horrific shooting between two drug dealers.

I feel it is important to know that as Moishe's mother, I feel completely betrayed by the attorneys we paid a large sum of money, the D.A. officers that were voted into office and this community, Abilene, Texas.

Last Wednesday, the 31st of January, I received a call at work that Moishe had been taken to the 350th District Court in Abilene. I was allowed to talk to him in the open court room as he, seemingly robotic, said he needed to sign a plea. I was stunned!

I talked to him and it ended that he did not sign a 30 year prison term paper that was put before him. I never saw it.

Two days later, when our eldest son, Duane, went to see Moishe at the jail, he was told that he could see him in court at 1:30 pm.

The plea thing was again shoved at them. They were told and showed a paper as evidence that I had threatened witnesses and was about to be arrested. I never threatened anyone. But it looked real to them. My oldest son was sick! When I came home from work, Duane was in bed with a headache and would barely talk to me. The plea was not signed this time either.

After the certification /transfer hearing, Oct. 2005, I had requested a change of venue, motion to dismiss and various other legal moves. Moishe, at age 15 had been arrested for a murder he witnessed. Having never been personally exposed to a juvenile legal system prior to being in Abilene, I was ignorant of how a child could be treated there.

We soon hired Robert McCool of Baird, Texas.

I feel that events leading to our Feb. 5th court date are pivotal to show our son was pressured into signing a plea for a crime he didn't commit.

We had not been allowed to see Moishe for over two months for cigarette related charges in the adult jail. Even though he has aged to seventeen, he was barely 15 when he was arrested and held with no bond from that July 11, 2005, day.

I don't know all that was done to him, but he seemed a total different person with nods or simple one phrase answers to my questions. He was guarded as if protecting himself to not say the wrong thing.

I had been told by his attorneys that he had stuck to the same story all that time. But now, I was shown a type written unsigned narrative by Wayne Knowles, McCool's detective. Outlandish statements that supposedly implicate Moishe. I was incensed and asked him who he worked for, I told all of them I needed new attorneys. I began to work very hard to find them.

In the absence of family support and input, someone wrote up a narrative of events that could match up with the DA's version. This did not go along with the DNA and fingerprint evidence. A version that called Moishe a master mind and creator of all the events of the shooting.

My answer was that Moishe had only known Stewart and his girlfriend (both known drug dealers) less that a couple of months. Moishe did not know the shooter at all. We learned the name of the shooter, and found he is called a big time dope dealer and killer. Law enforcement never sought after this man. The man, Brian, left Abilene we were told.

A fifteen year old new kid in town, Moishe, did not control 2 adult, career long dope dealers into a dispute with a shoot-out resulting in the murder of one of them.

Some how my son has been frightened. Frightened as he was that night he walked to meet Stewart across the street from our apartment and saw Stewart in a shoot out with a man, then himself being chased and threatened by that man.

Now I feel he is threatened by people we hired. The west Texas drug business is apparently big and widespread.

From Wayne's narrative, I feel he spoke to Moishe and questioned so he could fill in the blanks. There was so much fiction there I had to laugh, even made up gang names I recognized from a recent book he read.

I feel all this was done to keep out of the public awareness many parts of the deceased and his drug dealer girlfriend's life. I further feel that the image of Abilene as a whole would be affected in a negative way if citizens knew that drugs are well involved in the lives of many they least suspect.

They are satisfied to sacrifice an unsuspecting kid (Moishe) to protect their own....even when they know he did not kill the man, Stewart Wolford, that he thought was his 17 year old new friend.

Simply, Deborah.......his mom and friend

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