Sunday, December 23, 2007

Interrogation Which Led To False Confession Leads To $15.5 Million Civil Judgment

From the AP:

CHICAGO (AP) -- A man who spent months in jail after being accused of sexually assaulting and drowning his 3-year-old daughter before DNA evidence cleared him was awarded, with his wife, $15.5 million Thursday. [...]

The lawsuit alleged detectives subjected Kevin Fox to threats, lies and promises of a deal during a 14 1/2-hour overnight interrogation in which he implicated himself in the killing. Kevin Fox testified that he lost hope during the interrogation and gave a false story when promised leniency. Detectives denied the couple's claims and insisted Kevin Fox's statements were made voluntarily.

I have long had concerns about some of the ways law enforcement can work to get confessions (and retractions) because I know that people put under extreme duress will comply solely because of the pressure. Different people have different cracking points, but all of us can be broken.

Besides the harm done to this man by his being charged with his daughter's murder, this false confession likely put an immediate stop to the investigation into this little girl's brutal death. When the DNA results came back the investigation restarted but at a disadvantage because of the lost time.

According to the report on this judgment, this murder is still unsolved and that may have happened no matter how the police handled Fox, but there's a chance that in the months when Fox was in jail the police could have gotten a genuine break in the case. Memories fade and exact dates become less clear when days after a crime become months.

Since the police must have the DNA from the real murderer and this DNA hasn't been matched to that of anyone in any of the criminal databases we must assume that this person is still free and most likely still extremely dangerous.

We cannot afford to forget this as I'm sure these parents cannot forget what happened to their daughter. Joy during the holidays is important, but joy and concern for the most vulnerable are not mutually exclusive.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:25 AM   0 comments links to this post


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