Brendan Dassey and False Confessions

Discussion in 'Netflix Series: Making A Murderer' started by bessie, Jan 10, 2016.

  1. bessie

    bessie Administrator Staff Member Administrator Moderator

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    Use this thread for general discussion of Brendan Dassey.

    See this thread for documents and references.
     
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  3. bessie

    bessie Administrator Staff Member Administrator Moderator

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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."[HR][/HR]
    What say you?
     
  4. Ellie9

    Ellie9 New Member

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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.
     
  5. Tawny

    Tawny Bye

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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!
     
  6. PrimeSuspect

    PrimeSuspect New Member

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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/c9ow4lwzec007mi/dassey_4_16_07.pdf?dl=0

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9dpNu3jLO3tMENkSjlRME5ROHc/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.
     
  7. bessie

    bessie Administrator Staff Member Administrator Moderator

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  8. shadowraiths

    shadowraiths LISK Liaison, Verified Forensic Psychology Special Staff Member Moderator

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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.

    [video=youtube;WkLHXKHb1Vc]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkLHXKHb1Vc[/video]​

    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"
     
  9. Ellie9

    Ellie9 New Member

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    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?
     
  10. shadowraiths

    shadowraiths LISK Liaison, Verified Forensic Psychology Special Staff Member Moderator

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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.
     
  11. MaxManning

    MaxManning New Member

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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.
     
  12. eve314

    eve314 New Member

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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?
     
  13. Coldpizza

    Coldpizza WS Administrator Staff Member Administrator Moderator

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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

    [​IMG]
    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."
     
  14. Tawny

    Tawny Bye

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    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.
     
  15. TheDuchess

    TheDuchess Active Member

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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.
     
  16. TheDuchess

    TheDuchess Active Member

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  17. Moxie Vi

    Moxie Vi Member

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  18. stephsb

    stephsb New Member

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    IMO, Dassey's confession and conviction are some of the saddest and most horrendous injustices from this whole mess.

    I highly, highly recommend anyone looking to get an objective view on Brendan's confession read them in order, and also read the 5/13 confession (although it wasn't used in court because Kachinsky was completely incompetent). Looking at them in progression makes it very clear the tactics used by police, and the little information Brendan actually knows.

    I've taken notes on all 500 some pages of Brendan's interviews, and have shared portions of them for context in threads #1 and #2. I also had a list of all the questions Brendan can't answer/information given by officers to Brendan in thread #1. After reading through all of them it is obvious to me Brendan knows little of value about the crime. I'd be happy to do any contextual posts on information given by Brendan similar to the posts I've done before if people want certain things cleared up, or find certain sections especially convincing.

    Thank you to everyone posting info about false confessions on this thread. It is one of the most misunderstood phenomenas in the legal world- the common belief being people would never confess to a crime they didn't commit. This belief is proven completely false, and Brendan's case is doing so much good in bringing this to light. As so many have stated, children and those with low IQs are especially vulnerable. Brendan, unfortunately, was both.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  19. MaxManning

    MaxManning New Member

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    I personally have looked back on your other posts numerous times. It's a bit of digging.

    I think what would be helpful is maybe a list of things that were mentioned BEFORE brendan mentioned them, and a list of things that brendan mentioned BEFORE they mentioned them (likely a much smaller list).

    Although, I think that the missing interviews like the one in the back of the squad car is likely the beginning of inside details , but we don't have that.

    It could even be that interview that had him so worried about Steve actually being guilty. To know what they told him, could explain his state of mind up until 2/27.
     
  20. stephsb

    stephsb New Member

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    I can start looking at a list of things they mentioned before Brendan mentioned them. I've had more trouble developing a list of things Brendan mentions first because he really gives up very little info w.o prompting. I've thought of compiling a list of answers he gives that aren't simply yes/no, but even then, a lot of that info comes through leading questions, or insinuations of what the police are looking for, or just plain guessing. (Like when asked how she was bound- he answers rope...same answer i would give if I had no idea how a woman was bound)

    Another way I've thought of looking at information that would be far more time-consuming would be going through each allegation from the criminal complaint (which would be taken from the 3/1 confession) and show the process LE took to get him to give that statement. My goal from all of this is to try and help people understand there was virtually nothing of use in that confession.

    Thanks for going back and looking at my prior posts- legal interviewing/investigation is one of the best classes I took while working on my paralegal degree, and it was taught by a WI defense attorney. Our midterm was to go through a police interview and decide what was usable information, what questions were bad, and what information came as a result of those bad questions. I used a similar process when going through Brendan's statements.

    One last thing I'd like to add that complicates Brendan's case is the missing interviews (as you noted) AND what information he is giving police that came from things he heard secondhand (through media, family, school, etc.)


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  21. MaxManning

    MaxManning New Member

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    Agreed. I also think it's plausible to believe that even kayla's statement originated from media/school/family information. Which is the whole reason Brendan gets sucked back in.

    Which is why I have interest in that first interview. For any kid, being in the back of a squad car is going to be impactful. So if someone is talking to you about what they think your uncle did and accusing you of hiding something, that would seem reasonable for a kid to be worried about something like that happening again in the future. No kid wants to go through that. Also , might lead a kid to wonder about if his uncle would do such a thing, and that might be traumatic as well.


    I don't know what the best format would be. But I see so often people saying that he said *something* and how could he have known that ?

    So one post shows everything he was told first, which I assume is a massive list, compared to a rather small list of what he offered FIRST. Would drive home the point that he knew very little until told.

    Then I guess that list could then be expanded to maybe include a number by each detail, indicating the interview it was first mentioned -- so we know when he first heard it.

    So maybe 1 = squad car, 2 = school 2/27 , 3 = police station 2/27, 4 = hotel 2/27 etc

    That way we get a feeling for how early he was exposed to these things and it's quick reference to find that dialog.

    That's a big part of why I have been referring back to your notes, so I can find the dialog easily as opposed to searching through pdfs each time. But I might have to check multiple posts to find the first occurrences of a given topic.

    I think the people new to the case, seeing that kind of data very early on, can quickly expose them to how much was fed to him, without digging and doing the work you already have done.
     

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