There is a terrible abuse of power, allegedly, in the investigation of a double murder case in Arizona. A young 8 year old child was being interviewed by the police in the murder case of his father and a houseguest/friend of the father who were shot and killed. The interview was recorded; thank God, because it shows the leading questions being asked by the officers; as well as the answers given by the child.
This is outrageous; children are very easily led by those in authority. This child was a potential witness and was being interviewed as such. The officers allegedly said to the child, what if we had someone who ‘saw’ something? Then, when a series of questions was put to the child and he was led to say that he ‘might’ have shot the gun that day, then he might have shot his father, then he might have shot the friend…before long he was shooting the gun that day and he didn’t know…if maybe he shot his father. You see what i am saying…this line of questioning was done without an adult advocate for the child being present.
There was no attorney in the room who represented the child…there was no parent present (father was killed…but the child had a mother who lived out of state) there was no friend or clergy present…no teacher…no person who could stop the interview when it allegedly (and in my opinion was) turned into coersion to get the child to confess to murder. This is an 8 year old child. Clearly, he was anxious, fearful and wanting to give them answers…he was wanting to be pleasing to the authority figures in the room so that the questions would stop. Whether he is guilty of murder or not…this is not how questioning should have been conducted.
Even if it is true that this child committed murder (it would indeed be a terrible thing)…the case will probably be thrown out because the ‘evidence on tape’ was done without the child being read his rights/and in lieu of not being able to comprehend his miranda rights (or to have anyone unbiased explain it to him)…there was no adult advocate present to prevent him from implicating himself in the taped ‘confession’. What if this child confessed to a crime that he did not commit?
This is a huge problem in our court system. People who conduct police interviews with children, or with people who are disabled/special needs….should be required to have special training. It is very easy to lead a person to ‘confess’ to a crime when they are being questioned by a person who is viewed as an authority figure when they are at a disadvantage intellectually (disabled) or if they are not of an age of understanding…a young minor child.
This case will have long term repercussions in the legal system; as it should. It was an outrageous abuse of power and the impact on police procedures should be addressed. What do you think of this situation? You can watch part of this interview on cnn. http://www.cnn.com/2008/CRIME/11/19/boy.confession.tactics/index.html#cnnSTCVideo