With simply 16 days till the scheduled execution of Melissa Lucio, a girl sentenced to loss of life for a homicide that by no means occurred, quite a few consultants on false confessions — together with those that concentrate on how trauma survivors are weak to false confessions — are talking out in help of clemency for the mom of 12.
On Wednesday, Dr. Gisli H. Gudjonsson, the world’s main professional on compliance, suggestibility, and false confessions voiced his grave considerations concerning the case in an op-ed printed in the Independent.
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“Melissa Lucio’s case is among the most tragic I’ve come throughout in my 40-year profession as a scientific forensic psychologist,” wrote Dr. Gudjonsson who’s Emeritus Professor on the Institute of Psychiatry of King’s College London. Ms. Lucio has been on loss of life row in Texas for 14 years for the loss of life of her 2-year-old daughter Mariah, who died two days after an unintentional fall. Simply two hours after her daughter handed, officers started interrogating Ms. Lucio.
Dr. Gudjonsson, who began his profession as a police officer, performed a complete evaluate of Ms. Lucio’s case, interrogation, and up to date psychological testing. He submitted a report that was included within the clemency petition filed by Ms. Lucio’s attorneys to Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles final month.
Ms. Lucio, who was interrogated for 5 hours inside hours of her toddler dying, asserted her innocence greater than 100 occasions. However officers used coercive and manipulative interrogation ways recognized to provide false confessions, till Ms. Lucio falsely accepted duty for a few of her daughter’s accidents.
As a life-long survivor of sexual assault and home abuse, Ms. Lucio is especially weak to succumbing to such aggressive intimidation and coersion.
Within the op-ed, Dr. Gudjonsson highlighted the officers’ use of the controversial Reid interrogation method, which he stated “is guilt-presumptive, makes use of psychological manipulation to coerce confessions, and has been linked to numerous false confessions.”
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Nearly 1 in 3 people confirmed harmless by DNA have been wrongly convicted primarily based on false confessions elicited by coercive police interrogation ways, like these used towards Melissa.
Dr. Gudjonsson discovered that the investigators failed to indicate compassion and understanding towards a grieving and sleep disadvantaged mom nonetheless in shock from her child’s loss of life.
“As a substitute, officers performed on her vulnerabilities by relentlessly accusing her of getting abused and overwhelmed her daughter to loss of life and being a nasty mom,” he wrote. “[They] pressured her to enact the alleged beatings on a doll, with one of many investigators instructing her to hit the doll tougher and tougher, till she complied. By the top of the 5 hours, in obvious misery, Lucio advised officers she wished she was useless.”
Dr. Gudjonsson wrote that Ms. Lucio’s “admissions” have been “tentative and inadvertent,” noting that she merely parroted again to the officers the phrases and narrative that that they had urged to her for the previous a number of hours of her interrogation.
“There was no tangible confession to homicide,” he wrote, including that her “inadvertent admissions” have been however exaggerated by the prosecution and used towards Ms. Lucio at her trial.
Dr. Gudjonsson urges Ms. Lucio’s case to be reconsidered and explains that it’s “a very potent instance of how a weak individual might be psychologically manipulated into falsely implicating themselves in a criminal offense in response to interrogative strain.”