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  1. #1
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    Brendan Dassey and False Confessions

    Use this thread for general discussion of Brendan Dassey.

    See this thread for documents and references.
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  2. #2
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    'Making a Murderer,' and the Huge Problem of False Youth Confessions
    "The tactics that you see on the interrogation tape are all too common"
    Rolling Stone
    By Molly Knefel January 8, 2016

    [...]

    "The tactics that you see on the [Dassey] interrogation tape are all too common," Dassey's attorney, Laura H. Nirider, tells Rolling Stone. (Nirider is a project director at the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth.) "They were designed originally for seasoned adult criminals, and what you see on the tape is them being used on a 16-year-old with intellectual disabilities. As a result, you see these powerful psychological tactics designed for adults absolutely steamroll Brendan."

    Those tactics, explains Barry Feld, author of Kids, Cops, and Confessions: Inside the Interrogation Room, can include confrontation, manipulation, aggressive questioning and lying about evidence. "When they're used on kids, they can be even more effective," Feld says. "Kids don't have the same life experience, the same understanding of their rights or understanding of the legal process."

    [...]

    Surely, some viewers watched Dassey's confession in Making a Murderer and wondered how anyone could ever confess to a crime he didn't commit. His lawyer explains: "You have to think about this from Brendan's perspective. The interrogation tape that we saw was actually the fourth time he had been questioned by police over the course of 48 hours. They were coming after him and coming after him, not leaving him alone after he said, 'I have nothing to do with this,'" says Nirider. "In that kind of situation, where you're being badgered like that, and 16 years old with intellectual disabilities, suddenly it makes a lot of sense to say, OK, I'm going to tell these guys what they want to hear."

    What say you?
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  3. #3
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    I am not sure about Steven, but I feel fairly confident that Brendan falsely confessed. For example, when asked what happened to 'her head' Brendan literally starts guessing things. "He cut her hair?" he asked. You'd think someone would remember a gunshot to the head. It came off sounding more like a student at school repeatedly trying to guess the answers to questions on an essay exam he never studied for.

    However, other people noted that he started saying very graphic things about rape. I'm not sure what to think on this. Sixteen is old enough to be familiar with a lot of locker room chatter, and guys this age can be very explicit with each other when talking about girls.

    I would have to research more into this, but at this point it appears that the police inappropriately used advanced social tactics for someone who, later on the phone, said this socially-childish comment: "We have the same favourite animal." False confessions are common even among socially mature people of average intelligence. It's completely possible that he falsely confessed. But I also have to wonder if he did witness anything at all, or saw anything.

    If Brendan was in that room with Theresa, and even if he did things to her, we have to remember how easily manipulated he appears. Watching the police easily toy with him, it's sadly easy to imagine that if SA did this, he could have used his familiarity and authority (being older) to convince Brendan this was a normal, fun thing to do. That is to say, if Brendan raped Theresa, I think perhaps he never would have done anything like that without an authority-like figure coaxing him into it. I don't really think Brendan should be in prison at this point in my research on the case.

    JMO.

  4. #4
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    I am appalled that there aren't laws in place to protect literal children from the aggressive tactics used against them in interrogation.

    He was fed literally every piece of "evidence" and led through lines of questions until he "correctly guessed". He was guessing what he thought they wanted to hear. I can't understand, personally, how anyone could watch those tapes and feel good about that investigation. JMO!

  5. #5
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    At last, we want to ask you to watch the video for, lack of a better term, the appeals to emotions the officers make throughout the different statements to Brendan. This 16 yr old low-educated - or excuse me - low intellectual ability, low cognitive ability, shy introvert, they're asking him and they're - they're appealing to emotion.

    Watch how he answers the questions. Watch how the questions are asked. At times it differs.
    Times they cozy up to Brendan to get the answer they want. At times they pull back from Brendan when he's not giving the answer they -- they---they want and they expect.

    It's like the new puppy dog. When he does what he's supposed to do he gets a pat on the head and a treat. Good job, Brendan. Good boy. But when it's not what they want, we're leaving Brendan, until you tell us what we want to hear.


    Pg 93 of 256

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/c9ow4lwzec...16_07.pdf?dl=0

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9d...lRME5ROHc/view

    This is an excerpt of the opening statement by Mark Fremgen about the coercive tactics used on Brendan. I think it sums up precisely how those interviews were conducted.
    Brendan wanting to please the investigators and get the heck out of that room, not realizing in the slightest that the guessing and repeating back what he just heard, would seal his fate.
    Last edited by PrimeSuspect; 01-11-2016 at 01:13 AM. Reason: add WS BD transcripts

  6. #6
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    Just a eminder that the Dassey docs are linked here on WS.
    Documents: Brendan Dassey *No Discussion*
    Last edited by bessie; 01-11-2016 at 01:16 AM.
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  7. #7
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    shadowraiths is offline LISK Liaison, Verified Forensic Psychology Specialist, infoSec Architect
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    The most well-known case of false confessions and juvenile interrogations, to date, is that of Michael Crowe, with regard to the murder of his sister. Here is a brief youtube overview.


    For more in-depth information, the San Diego Union Tribune has a section dedicated to the victim, Stephanie Crowe, and the botched interrogation. Richard Tuite, a mentally ill drifter, was eventually charged and convicted for Stephanie's death. He appealed, was granted a retrial, and was acquitted. And, in May 22, 2012, 14 years after Stephanie's death, Michael Crowe and his two friends were declared factually innocent by Superior Court Judge Kenneth.

    It is important to note in the aforementioned case, that particular debacle did not involve conspiracies of planting evidence. What it did involve, was tunnel vision and coercing a young boy to confess to his sister's murder, as well as pointing to his two companions as accomplices.

    That said, and something to consider.

    LEOs are trained to interrogate persons of interest as if they are guilty. In other words, their goal is to get the confession. In a way, they're learning the finer points of social engineering... I'll be your buddy. I'm on your side. Do you want some soda? You could be in big trouble. Your mom might get mad.

    The problem with this approach, as it applies to children, is that there is an implicit power imbalance. The child is already in an, at the very least, intimidating, if not threatened, position.

    Even if the LEO does not intend intimidate or threaten.

    S/He is, by his/her very profession and age, in a position of power. And while their good cop, nicer cop, act may yield potential useful information, it runs the very real risk of eliciting false testimony. This is moreso, if they introduce information... what they want them to confess... Something happened to her head.

    This is known as confirmation bias. A statement, regardless of its actual veracity, that confirms what they already believe to be true.

    Whether it's a confession or accusing someone else of a crime. It's all about getting this child to disclose. And this is why it is especially important to exercise extreme care when questioning a child. Lest the child disclose a fantastical tale that cannot be corroborated by other evidence.

    I would proffer that the aforementioned is what happened with Brendan. Oh, I cut her hair, oh, I stabbed her, I cut her throat. I had sex with her. SA shot her.

    Even so, notably, their choice to question him was not totally out of the blue. That is, it was reported that Brendan was tearful and had lost a great deal of weight. This was revealed in the testimony during Brendan's trial, by his cousin, I believe. So, there was probable cause to believe that Brendan had, at the very least, witnessed something. The question was, what?

    Unfortunately, by the time LEOs finished with Brendan, they had built a gruesome story of kidnap, rape, mutilation, and murder. A gory scene that should result in tons of forensic evidence... blood soaked sheets and mattress. DNA on the cuffs and "shackles." Blood spatter in the garage, etcetera and etcetera, ad nauseam.

    Yet, what did they find? A single slug with a smidgen of Ms. Halbach's DNA. Unfortunately, there was "so little" DNA, that they could not even re-run the test after the lab technician managed to contaminate it with her own DNA.

    Sadly, in this made-up scenario, Brendan played a central enough role, that they charged and convicted him of first-degree intentional homicide, mutilation of a corpse, and first-degree sexual assault.

    Such a travesty.

    Footnote: Here is a reasonable article specifically covering "The Police Interrogation of Children and Adolescents"
    Last edited by shadowraiths; 01-11-2016 at 02:48 AM. Reason: forgot to add link to article



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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by shadowraiths View Post
    The most well-known case of false confessions and juvenile interrogations, to date, is that of Michael Crowe, with regard to the murder of his sister. Here is a brief youtube overview.

    Oh, wow, that video was brutal to watch. That poor child. Oh my gosh. I can't even think straight. The boy was literally making keening sounds, only heard during acute stress/breakdown. And they kept on pushing him. This shouldn't be legal. I don't think minors should be interrogated ever without a capable parent or other person like a lawyer right next to them the entire time. Same for all people with mental/social disabilities. And Brendan was both a minor and had disabilities.

    I can see the same tactics being used, just as you described here, with the cops basically making Brendan a part of the crime rather than just a witness to it. I can see how they came at him accusingly right from the start. The problem I have is, as I was reviewing the taped confession video, the one on the couch, very soon into it one of the officers reminds Brendan of some talk they had a couple days ago. I guess this was off camera. What was said then? What seeds did they already plant by that time?

  9. #9
    shadowraiths's Avatar
    shadowraiths is offline LISK Liaison, Verified Forensic Psychology Specialist, infoSec Architect
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    I am not certain if it was the very first time Brendan talked with them, however I posted links to the interviews on Brendan's thread. It includes an audio interview that appears to have occurred earlier that day. Since it's hard to hear what he/they are saying, the individual who posted that video, included what appears to be the transcript.



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  10. #10
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    I apologize in advance if the documents/recordings from the first dassey interview in the squad card on I believe 11/6 exist already on the other thread, and I just missed them, but I couldn't find them.


    In the dassey trial transcripts, we learn of the first interview of dassey that takes place in the back of a squad car on I believe 11/6. There is said to have been a visor recording device. This recording is played in court, but the transcript doesn't contain a transcript of that interview. There is only the examination and cross examination of one of the officers involved in doing that interview.

    So while we get some details about the recording, we do not get the full scope of what exactly was discussed. But we do at this point have an officer that believes that Dassey is hiding something and using the same interrogation and coercion tactics we see in the other interviews. My interest is to know exactly what questions were asked, so we know the full scope of what brendan had heard from police and obviously had in his mind from 11/6 all the way to 2/27 when the next interview took place. Without that context, we potentially miss some very important details about what the police believed at that point, as well as what they knew. We also would have the beginnings of the coercion.


  11. #11
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    But what if Brendan Dassey did commit the crime or witnessed it but not with Steven? He could be protecting Scott Tadych and Bobby Dassey?

  12. #12
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    What 'Making a Murderer' Reveals About the Justice System and Intellectual Disability
    Brendan Dassey's story illustrates how vulnerable people with intellectual disabilities are to injustice at every level
    BY LAURA PASSIN January 11, 2016


    Brendan Dassey, pictured here in 2007, is said to have an IQ of around 70.

    The young man whose confession of a gruesome rape and murder is possibly coerced is described in the series as "learning disabled," "not very smart," and "really stupid" (that, chillingly, is Dassey's self-assessment). When Dassey's mother asks him what he thinks of his defense attorney, Dassey responds that he knows they both like cats.

    Dassey's IQ is said to be around 70, in the "borderline" range — the border, that is, of intellectual disability. Despite the vague language used in the show, this is not about academic underperformance. A generation ago, Dassey would have been diagnosed with mild mental retardation. Two generations before that, he would have been — officially, medically — a "moron."

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by eve314 View Post
    But what if Brendan Dassey did commit the crime or witnessed it but not with Steven? He could be protecting Scott Tadych and Bobby Dassey?
    I honestly feel he may know something about ST/BD that we don't. I don't believe the murder happened the way he "described" (was coerced into telling), but his adamant statements that SA was "innocent" is telling to me. Combine that with ST's statement that SA's conviction was "the best thing that could ever happen" and I feel squinked out by ST.

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    This discussion about the interrogation practices I have seen used in the BD confession make me think of a card trick I learned a long time ago. It does like this:

    I have a card in my hand that you can't see. You have no way of knowing what it is. Let's say it is the Jack of Diamonds. I am going to make you guess the card in my hand without seeing it.

    Me: Is my card a red card or black card?
    You: Black card Me: OK good, so that leaves the red cards
    You: Red card Me: OK great, red

    Me: (now that I have you on red either way) Is the suit diamonds or hearts?
    You: Hearts Me: OK, that leaves diamonds
    You: Diamonds Me: very good!

    Me: (not that I have you at diamonds) Is is a face card or number card?
    You: Number card Me: Excellent, that leaves the face cards
    You: Face card Me: GREAT JOB!

    Me: (now that I have you at face cards) Is it either Jack/Queen or King/Ace?
    You: King/Ace Me: That leaves the Jack/Queen
    You: Jack/Queen Me: Perfect...you are doing great!

    Me: (now that have got you down to 2 cards) Jack or Queen?
    You: Queen Me: OK we throw out the Queen and that leaves the Jack of Diamonds! GREAT JOB
    You: Jack Me: AWESOME!!! Jack of Diamonds it is! YOU ARE A GENIUS!!!

    It is a simple trick, but honestly, has amazed so many of my friends they have no idea what I just did. And I am talking highly educated adults who fashion themselves quite intelligent, who have no idea how I have tricked them.

    It is this same mental trick that the investigators use on Brendan. When he gets an answer wrong, they redirect him, by telling him to "guess again" or to try to elicit the correct response. They do this often times by giving him an either/or question. If he gets it wrong, they redirect him to the correct answer. When he guesses correctly, they reward him with thanks, promises of freedom, of their friendship, of their appreciation for his help.

    Anyone watching these videos can see their trickery, except for the mentally slow, shy, scared, confused and ALONE, 16 year old child in the room with them.
    Everything I post without a supporting link is always JMO.

  15. #15
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    Interesting list of 10 notorious false confessions, although the Ryan Ferguson one is a bit sketchy in that he's still in prison.

    Very interesting how many of these cases involve young men with low IQs.

    http://listverse.com/2013/05/22/10-c...e-confessions/
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