Thursday, March 6, 2014

Adrian Thomas: New York State; New York State's highest court finds that police cajoling of a confession went too far; Chief Justice says a rejected defence proposal to allow the testimony of a psychological expert on false confessions might have provided insight into what could influence a suspect facing such interrogation. The Times Union.

STORY:  Court: Police 'cajoled' murder confession," by reporter Robert Gavin, published by the Times Union on February 20, 2014.

GIST: "The state’s highest court Thursday unanimously overturned the 2009 murder conviction of Adrian Thomas in the death of his 4-month-old son, ruling Troy police wrongly obtained his confession through coercion. The 7-0 decision by the Court of Appeals (read it here) means a videotaped confession cannot be used against Thomas, 31, of Troy, if Rensselaer County prosecutors bring another second-degree murder case against him. The court ordered a new trial and acting District Attorney Arthur Glass said he plans to retry Thomas. The ruling buttresses the boundaries that police in New York state cannot cross when they lie to suspects as a ploy to get them to confess to crimes. Police are allowed to lie to suspects, but not to the extent that a confession is coerced or given involuntarily. In the 19-page ruling, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman wrote that police “completely undermined” Thomas’ right to remain silent using “highly coercive deceptions.” In two interviews lasting 9½ hours inside an interrogation room at Troy’s Central Police Station, detectives falsely told Thomas — 67 times — that they considered the severe head injuries to his son, Matthew, to be accidental. They repeatedly told Thomas, falsely, that if he explained to them what happened, he would not be arrested and could go home. They threatened to “scoop” up Thomas’ wife, Wilhelmina Hicks, if Thomas did not take responsibility for the crime. They asked Thomas to provide information to give to doctors to keep his son alive — even though, at that point, the child was brain dead and his death was a certainty.“Maybe your family lives happier ever after,” Sgt. Adam Mason told Thomas. “But you know what, if you can’t find that memory and those doctors can’t save your son’s life, then what kind of future are you going to have? Where’s it going to go? What’s going to happen if Matthew dies in that hospital tonight, man?” The ploys worked: Thomas, who weighed more than 300 pounds, confessed he “slammed” his infant son on a low-lying mattress three times in the week preceding his son’s injuries on Sept. 21, 2008. That morning, the infant’s mother found Matthew not breathing; he died two days later at Albany Medical Center Hospital.".........  Lippman had suggested that allowing the testimony of a psychological expert on false confessions might have provided insight into what could influence a suspect facing such interrogation. Thomas’ defense wanted to call such a witness at the trial, but Ceresia denied it. “You don’t think today, given everything that we know, that there’s a science that’s formed around this whole dynamic?” Lippman asked. “Is that totally something that just doesn’t make any sense or has no credibility in terms of what’s happened over the last decade and more in this whole area of false confessions?” The Court of Appeals ruling found no need to address that issue stating that Thomas’ “confession should not have been placed before the jury.”"

The entire story can be found at:

See Wrongful Convictions Blog: "Adrian Thomas was convicted of murdering his 4-month old son Matthew.  The conviction relied in part on a confession that Adrian Thomas made during a 9-hour interrogation during which he was lied to and coercively threatened by police investigators.  Despite the fact that other evidence may indicate guilt, there is no ethical, moral, or logical excuse for these police tactics. This is a significant decision relative to false confessions."


Dear Reader. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog. We are following this case.

I have added a search box for content in this blog which now encompasses several thousand posts. The search box is located  near the bottom of the screen just above the list of links. I am confident that this powerful search tool provided by "Blogger" will help our readers and myself get more out of the site.

The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:

Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:
I look forward to hearing from readers at:

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;