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Coerced Interrogations

A documentary “Scenes of a Crime” deals with ten hours of taped interrogations of Adrian Thomas at a police station in Troy, New York, in 2008.  The ten hours of taped interrogations resulted in a disputed confession which is the subject of the documentary.  The confession related to a high profile baby killing case.  The Appellate Division for the Third Department located in Albany, New York, is currently considering an appeal of Mr. Thomas’ conviction based on the ten hours of interrogations.

Police Officers Lie

During the ten hours of taped interrogations, Mr. Thomas was continually lied to.  He was mislead over the two days of interrogations.  The police played good cop/bad cop.  The good cop tried to befriend Mr. Thomas.  The bad cop threatened him and called him a liar.  The detectives threatened to arrest his wife.  They sought to shame him into “being a man” and taking responsibility for the murder of the child so the wife would go free.

They lied to Mr. Thomas about the child being alive, and the doctors trying to save his life.  Mr. Thomas, over the ten hour period, went into a deep depression and talked about suicide.

Mr. Thomas Confesses

In the end the police convinced Mr. Thomas to confess.    He confessed to throwing the infant into the crib three times.

Psychological Coercion

The defense sought to submit an expert witness to testify to the issue of psychological coercion and the use of psychological coercion to obtain false confessions.  The defense tried to have Richard J. Ofshe, a social psychologist and Professor Emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley, testify.  The judge ruled that Mr. Thomas’ theories were not “general[ly] acceptance[d] in the scientific community” and, therefore, were not admissible into evidence.

The police initially believed that the child, Matthew Thomas, died of a severe skull fracture.  In the end, they learned that this diagnosis was incorrect.  There was no skull fracture.  The new theory of how the death took place was based on shaken baby syndrome, which is a crime.

Mr. Thomas Had No Prior Criminal Record

Mr. Thomas had never been previously arrested.  During the interrogation they had insisted for hours they had no idea what happened to the child.  He eventually weakened.  The police repeatedly said that whatever had occurred they are sure it was an accident and that he would not be arrested.  They offered numerous suggestions to him as to how the baby could have been inadvertently hurt.  In the end Mr. Thomas stated “if it comes down to it I’ll take the blame for it because, listen, I didn’t do it, when it comes down I take the rap for my wife so she won’t go to jail…I don’t want my wife to go to jail…I’m saying I will take the fall for my wife because I got a good wife.”

Police asked him again what happened and he responded “I don’t know how it happened”.  The officer then stated “then you can’t take the fall for your wife.  We gotta go pick your wife up.”

At the end of the interrogation Mr. Thomas acknowledged that he threw the baby down in the crib which resulted in the child’s death.  He was convicted by the jury.

The appeal pending before the appellate division of the third department has to do with setting aside the decision made by the jury based on a coerced confession.

Criminal Defense Lawyers

If you, a friend or family member is arrested or is anticipating being arrested relating to a crime you need the best possible criminal defense lawyer for legal representationThe criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo have extensive experience in dealing with the criminal courts throughout the metropolitan area.  We represent individuals charged with computer and internet crimes, traffic tickets, violent crimes, white collar crimes, sex crimes, weapons possession, driving while intoxicated (DWI/DUI), shop lifting, burglary, juvenile offenses, assault, assault and battery, misdemeanors, domestic violence, drug offenses and all other types of misdemeanors and felonies. Call us for a free consultation. Our phones are monitored 24/7.

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