Proof of False Confession and DNA Testing Lead to Freeing of Innocent Death-Row Inmate in LA

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 interrogation room.

Constitutional Amendments 101
Constitutional Amendments 101 (Photo credit: Village Square)

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.

Interrogation
Interrogation (Photo credit: Klearchos Kapoutsis)

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.

English: The Gas Chamber at New Mexico Peniten...
The Gas Chamber at New Mexico Penitentiary, Santa Fe. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2 thoughts on “Proof of False Confession and DNA Testing Lead to Freeing of Innocent Death-Row Inmate in LA

  1. Yep, you gotta live it to understand.
    It does feel better to confess than to keep being interrogated, I remember. In my case, it was to false testify. No threat of leathel injection, but it felt like it, and I wasn’t even a suspect.

    Like

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