Welcome to Mystery Crime Blog

In 1998, if someone had told me I would be spending the next eight years of my life involved in injustice, I would have said "You are stark raving mad!". Well, I am here to eat those words.

In 1997, a friend was telling me about twin sisters, Betty Wilson and Peggy Lowe, from Alabama who were arrested and tried for supposedly hiring an alcoholic, drug addict con-man, James Dennison White, to kill Betty's wealthy husband, Dr. Jack Wilson, who was a very well-liked and well-known eye doctor in Huntsville. Both sisters were tried on the same evidence and lying testimony. Betty was convicted and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole because she was a rich bitch and slept with a black man in Alabama. Peggy, the saintly one, was acquitted. The convicted con-man, who never really admitted to killing the doctor, has come up for parole several times but is still incarcerated.

After spending six years studying this case including both trial transcripts, putting up an extensive website (http://hankford.com/bettywilson) and spending the remaining two years putting together a book about this case Killer For Hire - The Final Chapter of the Alabama Twins Murder Case, I, as many others, believe that the real killer of the doctor is walking around free. Neither of the twin sisters had a motive to have the good doctor put away but the doctor's ex-wife and son did.

As time permits, I hope to present other similar cases of injustice along with information on books, movies, TV shows, video games, etc., related to mystery crime. In the meantime please visit http://mysterycrimescene.com/.












Criminal Defendants on Trial - Police Request a Voluntary Statement

Saturday, January 23, 2010

It's 4:00 a.m. and you are fast asleep. Loud pounding on your front door startles you to quickly try to awaken. You go to see who is there. Two very serious looking men dressed in shirts and ties show their badges to the peep hole in the door. They are the police. Adrenalin rushes through your circulatory system but you unlock the door and ask them what is wrong. They say they are investigating a crime in the neighborhood and ask you to drive down to the police station to tell them what you might know about the crime.

You think, "Aren't they supposed to read me my rights? I have seen that dozens of times on T.V." You don't know what to do. You don't want to be impolite. They are the authorities. You guess that you must comply with their request. So you ask if you can get dressed first. Then, hoping to make it easy on yourself, you give up your rights and do what they tell you to do.

The first thing you need to understand is that the police are not always required by law to give you your rights when they want you to talk to them. In Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966), the U.S. Supreme Court decided the landmark case concerning when and under what circumstances the U.S. Constitution requires police to advise a suspect of the right to silence and right to consult with an attorney prior to answering police questions.

Police are not always required to read you your rights under the Miranda decision. When police come to the scene of a crime and make an arrest but they do not want to talk to the person they will not read him his rights. If the police stop you on the street and begin questioning you and you volunteer to answer them, this is called a consensual encounter . They don't need to read your Miranda rights. If they ask you to voluntarily go to the station and talk to them, even if it is tape recorded, they don't need to give you your rights first under Miranda.

Does this sound strange to you? Well, here is the two minute wrap up on Miranda. Basically, the Miranda decision requires that whenever there is custodial interrogation the police must first advise the person of his 5th amendment rights to silence and counsel. If they fail to read and get a valid waiver of those rights, the statement will be suppressed by the trial court. That statement or confession will not be admitted into evidence at trial.

Is the Person In Custody?

First, the court will determine whether you were in custody. That depends on a number of factors. Were you told by police that you are under arrest? Were you handcuffed and placed into the police vehicle? Were you free to walk off or leave? If you were taken to the station did you drive yourself there freely and voluntarily? If you were talking voluntarily, were you free to get up and walk out at any time? Did police questions focus on you as their only suspect? The answers to these and other similar questions can be used to determine if you were in custody for purposes of Miranda. However, a suspect could be clearly in custody but the police do not try to interrogate him when he pipes up and begins to confess to the crime. This is the next inquiry under Miranda.

Is the Person being Interrogated?

Second, the court must determine whether the police were interrogating you. The word "interrogate" simply means "to question." Are the police asking the suspect questions while he is in custody? Of course, questions of personal background [i.e. name, address, date of birth, etc.] may be asked and answered without the necessity of Miranda warnings. But any questions that go to the facts or details of the crime and its surrounding circumstances may not be asked and answered until the police warn you of your constitutional rights.

Now, with this basic primer in mind, let's look again at the central issue of this article: "Come on down to the Station House and talk to us." As you can tell no Miranda warnings are required. The police are asking you to come voluntarily. You could say, "No. I won't go and get off my property." You could go inside and hop back in bed. However, if you decide to voluntarily go with them anything you say will be used as a basis for charging you with a crime and arresting you right then and there.

Look at it this way, you are not in custody. You have not been charged with a crime. The police do not have probable cause to arrest you. They are looking for something to hang their hat on in order to arrest you. They hope you will come down to their Station where they are in control and they will get you to talk. If the government has the entire burden to prove a case against you beyond a reasonable doubt, then they must do so on proof [real evidence and testimony] other than your own words alone. If, you choose to talk, you do so at your own peril. You have constitutional rights. You must assert them or lose them.

Remember this: Never, Never Talk to the Police Without a Lawyer!

So, when they come to call on you and try to shake you down, just say, "No thanks!" Don't go with them. Don't agree to leave your home and go with the police unless and until they arrest you. Always demand an attorney. Be loud and clear. Keep demanding to talk to an attorney until you get one. Never give a voluntary statement to the police without demanding to have your attorney present first.

For more helpful information on success strategies for a person charged with a crime, contact:

Ira Still, Esquire
Web: http://www.istilldefendliberty.com/
Info Blog: http://istilldefendliberty.blogspot.com/

Ira Still has been a criminal defense trial lawyer in Florida for over 30 years. He successfully represents his clients on all crimes and in all courts. Ira has had many, many jury trials and is well known in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale as a very successful trial and appellate lawyer. He has argued death penalty collateral appeals in the Florida Supreme Court and in various District Courts of Appeal. Ira has tried high profile cases such as police shooting a person and persons charged with shooting police; capital murder and capital sexual battery; violent crimes; drug trafficking; and virtually every other criminal charge. Ira Still is also an author, speaker, teacher, mentor and coach.

© 2009 Law Offices of Ira Still

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?Criminal-Defendants-on-Trial---Police-Request-a-Voluntary-Statement&id=1997016 - Criminal Defendants on Trial - Police Request a Voluntary Statement
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False Confessions

Saturday, January 2, 2010

It is generally believed that if a suspect confesses to a crime, he or she is guilty - no questions asked. This is not necessarily true in many cases of false confessions which have sent innocent people to prison especially death row. Some of these innocent people who were coerced into giving false confessions have had their sentence overturned with the introduction of DNA which proved they were innocent. Some have not been so lucky.


You ask, “If someone is innocent why in the world would they sign a confession of guilt?” Consider the following:

A minimal Miranda warning states:

You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to speak to an attorney, and to have an attorney present during any questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you at government expense.

A person will often be asked why he confessed or why he made any statement to the police, particularly after listening to the detective recite the above Miranda warning. Most of them state that the detective was friendly or seemed to be trying to help him out of the jam. And, suspects who know they are innocent, reason that it is okay to speak to the detective without a lawyer being present, because they know they didn’t do anything wrong and have nothing to hide. BIG MISTAKE!

Once a homicide detective has identified a possible suspect, his number one goal is to obtain a confession. There is no more powerful evidence of guilt than the confession. Any physical evidence such as blood samples, fingerprints, weapons, etc. are secondary. Detectives will use almost any method to secure a suspect’s confession.

Experienced detectives are trained to break down a suspect’s resistance to confessing by utilizing a number of psychologically coercive methods. These methods include isolating the suspect, hostilely confronting him, befriending him, lying to him, baiting him, holding out the possibility that by confessing the suspect can free himself from the charges, denying him sleep, denying him food and water, denying him the use of a telephone, denying him a lawyer, denying him contact with family, verbally abusing him, and on occasion physically abusing him. After endless hours of non-stop malicious interrogation, if the detective asked the innocent suspect if he were the notorious terrorist-murder, Osama Bin Laden, the suspect would answer, “Yes.” In other words, by this time the suspect wouldn’t even know his own name and would agree to anything to just stop the torture.

Once a suspect states that he wants a lawyer, all questioning by the police must cease until the suspect speaks with a lawyer. Even a court-appointed lawyer or a lawyer “as seen on TV” is better than none. Detectives know that a lawyer will advise a suspect to invoke his 5th Amendment right to silence. Many, if not most, detectives ignore the law and take steps to prevent a suspect from speaking with a family member or a lawyer while they interrogate him.

Like a pack of wolves surrounding a defenseless prey, detectives will cut off any means of escape and a lawyer is that means. The detectives arresting a suspect at night have until morning to make the kill at which time they are required to turn the suspect over to the court for arraignment and appointment of a lawyer. Until morning, to these detectives safeguarding their prey supersedes the constitution and the law. Later, during a hearing on a motion to suppress the confession because it was illegally obtained, these detectives will commit perjury, if necessary, to assure the court that they fully complied with the law and the constitution. These detectives are confident that the judge will find their testimony creditable and deny the motion to suppress. In reality, judges rarely disbelieve obvious police perjury and very rarely suppress confessions particularly in first-degree murder cases.

It is also generally believed that if you are taken in for questioning and you say you want a lawyer present before answering any questions, you are guilty or trying to hide something. If you are guilty of something but especially if you have done nothing wrong DEMAND that a lawyer be present or that they arrest you, if not, leave. If you are arrested say NOTHING and ask to contact a lawyer NOW! Do not be bashful about the request. Plug your ears with your fingers and shout out as loud as you can, I WANT A LAWYER!! Keep repeating this request until you have a lawyer present. This may sound childish but you DO NOT want to listen to ANYTHING the detective has to say to you until you have a lawyer present.


Further, DO NOT write down "your version" of what happened. That is also a statement. AND BEWARE of physical tests. They are NOT considered "statements" and are NOT protected by the Constitution. If you take any "tests" offered by the police, they CAN and WILL be used against you to prove you have broken the law. The police do NOT ask you to take tests to let you go. They do it to gather EVIDENCE against you. DO NOT BE FOOLED. Talk to a lawyer immediately.


Refusing to answer the detective’s questions and insisting that a lawyer be present may be hard to do, but it is a piece of cake compared to the possibility of endless hours of ruthless interrogation and a FALSE CONFESSION.
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