Sunday, March 16, 2008

How an Innocent Person is Convicted, Part 3: From Witness to Suspect

Officer Brad Shannon wanted Gloria and me to to tell our sons to speak with detectives without an attorney present. He told us they were just witnesses, that Todd had just been in a stare-down with another young man, that there was some trash talk, but Todd hadn't done anything. But he needed our encouragement to tell the police what he knew.

Our heads were spinning. Less than an hour earlier, another detective had told us that there'd simply been a minor tiff. But now we knew that someone had died. Why had the police lied? We were way out of depth and needed help. We knew we needed to retain an attorney.

Our decision was firm: we'd not advise Todd or Joel to speak without cousel, which we'd retain immediately.

Shannon's response: "If you don't cooperate"--meaning if you get an attorney--"we'll start looking at your sons as suspects rather than witnesses."

It was both a threat and a promise. In Colorado Springs exercising one's right to counsel is tantamount to self-incrimination.

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