Sunday, October 12, 2014

Chris Tapp: Idaho; Anatomy of the false confession (and the physical evidence which showed it was unreliable) which sent an innocent man to jail for decades while the killer roamed free; The Idaho Post Register; (Must Read. HL);

STORY: "Idaho murder case yielded 'false confession,' group says," by reporter Bryan Clark, published by the Idaho Post Register on October 11, 2014.

GIST: 'A decades-old Idaho Falls murder investigation resulted in a grave injustice, sending an innocent man to prison and allowing a killer to roam free.
Those are the conclusions of two reports on the 1996 sexual assault and murder of 18-year-old Angie Dodge. The reports were released by Judges for Justice, a national nonprofit that investigates suspected false convictions. In 1998, Chris Tapp was convicted of killing Dodge after he confessed during a series of interrogations. He has been in jail or prison for 18 years, nearly half of his life. The Judges for Justice reports were completed by Steve Moore, a retired FBI supervisory special agent who formerly headed up the Los Angeles-based investigations into al-Qaida, as well as Gregg McCrary, a retired supervisory special agent who formerly trained FBI agents in interrogation techniques at Quantico. Moore's 85-page report is a scathing critique of the Idaho Falls Police Department's investigative work. It found that Tapp's confession was demonstrably false - obtained by threats of life imprisonment or death, and with promises of immunity - and that the physical evidence in the case does not match detectives' conclusions. "In the final analysis," Moore concluded, "the actions of the IFPD detectives in this matter, even if well-intentioned, were egregious. In their zeal, they abandoned even the most basic investigative cautions and proceeded on a course charted by their uninformed hunches, not the evidence."......... After days of interrogation, Tapp confessed, saying that he and Hobbs committed the crime. But McCrary said the interrogations were deeply flawed. "This is a false confession," interrogation expert McCrary wrote. "The authorities manipulated Mr. Tapp through a series of explicit threats and promises, used false evidence ploys, asked a host of leading questions and continually contaminated the interrogation by disclosing nonpublic details of the crime and the crime scene, all of which was improper."........The existing physical evidence pointed toward the fact that Tapp's confession was no good. Dodge's body temperature was not taken by investigators, a critical oversight, Moore said, because it would have allowed accurate determination of the time of death. Instead, her body was put into refrigeration almost immediately, "destroying the possibility of determining the time of the attack." Taking a victim's body temperature, Moore said, is "Investigation 101," and failing to do so is like "forgetting to take fingerprints." Using the amount of urine contained in Dodge's bladder at the time of her death, Moore concluded that the attack probably couldn't have happened any earlier than 4 a.m. And Tapp was known to have been with a roommate from 3 a.m. until later that morning. After being shown a single-edged folding knife, Tapp indicated that it was similar to the murder weapon. But the autopsy showed that Dodge was stabbed with a double-edged knife. And blood-pattern evidence gathered from the scene did not match Tapp's description, Moore said. Further, Moore found the police theory of the crime - that Dodge was attacked and subdued by three men: Hobbs, Tapp and an unknown third - to be inconsistent with physical evidence at the scene."

The entire story can be found at:

Link to Steve Moore's report of his investigation of the case for "Judges for Justice."  (From the Judges for Justice site): Steve Moore, the Chief Inves­ti­ga­tor for J4J  con­ducted the inves­ti­ga­tion and authored the report.  He is a retired FBI agent and his vast expe­ri­ence in law enforce­ment, his learned knowl­edge, his hun­dreds of hours of inves­ti­ga­tion in this case, and his writ­ing abil­ity all pro­vide a com­pelling and per­sua­sive state­ment of Tapp’s innocence.)


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