“I was hungry. All I wanted to do was sleep, and I was willing to tell them anything they wanted me to tell them if it would get me out of that ” room.
This is was Damon Thibodeaux statement about his nine-hour interrogation on July 21, 1996 that resulted in his false confession to raping and killing his 14-year old step-cousin. He was set free last week after DNA testing proved this conviction wrong. The investigation also pointed to the police officers using tactics to get a false confession. For instance, Thibodeaux said that police threatened him with death by lethal injection and fed him facts about the crime scene that he added to his confession.
Thibodeaux spent 15 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. The Houston Chronicle reprinted a Washington Post article and quoting the reporter, “There was never any physical evidence connecting him to his cousin’s murder. But it took 15 years to reestablish that.” (Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012, A4. “Deaf-row inmate freed thanks to DNA.”).
Police coercive tactics such as sleep deprivation, long hours of aggressive questioning, repetition of questions, setting up the suspect with facts from the case, making threats of death by lethal injection have been seen in other cases as well as Thibodeaux’s. This case and others point to the critical need for increased public awareness and vigilance to defend the Constitutional rights of suspects.
- Damon A. Thibodeaux, Louisiana Death Row Inmate, Exonerated By DNA Evidence 15 Years After Being Condemned (huffingtonpost.com)
- Damon Thibodeaux is the 300th DNA Exoneree! (prisonmovement.wordpress.com)
- Louisiana death-row inmate Damon Thibodeaux exonerated with DNA evidence (claimyourinnocence.wordpress.com)