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False Confession Essay

3836 words - 16 pages

Areiann Johnson
Final Paper
April 16, 2012

False Confessions
She was killed Mr. Cope. She was raped and murdered!
You are in shock. You are confused. You feel indescribable, unbearable pain. This pain is so emotional that it affects you physically too! Someone has ripped your heart out of your chest and made you watch as they relentlessly take a knife to it. All hope is lost. You will surely die from this ordeal. At least you wish you could! Your heart is weak; it drops into your stomach making you nauseated. How will you ever heal? You have been broken.
Now every thought that runs through your mind is consumed with your desire for revenge. You want nothing more than to ...view middle of the document...

Instead, they continue to plague him with the idea that he is the one who did this unspeakable act. They start giving the grotesque details of his daughter’s murder. She was beaten to keep her quiet while she was raped and then strangled to death to keep the secret.
The detectives falsely told Cope that he had failed the lie detector test and they are positive he did the crime. They lied to him saying they found DNA on her body and they knew it is his. Cope, after many hours of coercing and threatening, begins to let his guard down. Cope denied some 600 times to killing his daughter Amanda before he slowly began to think maybe he actually did do it (NBC Dateline). He was exhausted and mentally disabled due to his lack of sleep. As a result he began to make up a story of how he killed his daughter. None of his statements matched the evidence in the case. Items he claimed to have used were not taken as evidence and others were proven not used by men and women at the South Carolina state lab. For two detectives; however, a confession was a confession and they felt they solved the case.
Billy Wayne Cope is still locked away in some dark jail cell receiving small doses of hope from loved ones who believe in his innocence, as well as from NBC Dateline who did a story on his case helping him to gather more advocates to his side.
How do false confessions happen? The writers for say “Look at the interrogation techniques police are trained to use on suspects helps explain how confessions can be coerced from the innocent as well as the guilty.” The methods used by the police to interrogate suspects and hopefully obtain a confession, are very much based in human nature. For example, people in general are more prone to talk with those they feel familiar with so detectives are respectful and show them that they are “on their side.” Also, once a person begins talking, it is difficult for them to stop talking. And once a person starts telling the truth, the harder it is to stop telling the truth and switch to lying. Authors for state, “A variety of factors can contribute to a false confession during a police interrogation.” Many cases have included a combination of several of these causes. They include: Duress, coercion, intoxication, diminished capacity, mental impairment, ignorance of the law, fear of violence, the actual infliction of harm, the threat of a harsh sentence, and misunderstanding the situation.
On April 13, 1986, Pauline Martz, a 79 year old widow, was beaten, bound with duct tape, and left to die in her burning home in Aurora, Missouri. Five days later, police arrested Johnny Lee Wilson, a timid, mentally challenged, 20 year old janitor with no prior record of violence. They brought all of their attention to Wilson after Gary Wall, a special education classmate, told them that Wilson had made incriminating comments. Sadly investigators did not know that Wall had lied...

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