News 07.21.08

A false confession in Missouri?

A leading false confession expert testified Friday at a Missouri hearing that Chuck Erickson may have made false statements to police implicating his classmate Ryan Ferguson in a murder he didn’t commit.

Richard Leo, a professor at the University of San Francisco, said improper interrogation tactics used by Columbia, Missouri, police officers in their interview with Erickson could have led him to give a false admission and to implicate his innocent classmate, Ferguson. They interrogated him after he had read a newspaper article about the crime and allegedly had a dream about possibly killing the victim.

“The goal of the police should be to get the truth, not to get a confession,” Leo said. “It has the hallmarks of a persuaded false confession.”

Ferguson was convicted by a jury in 2005 of committing the 2001 murder and sentenced to 40 years in prison. Erickson testified against Ferguson and pled guilty to murder. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison.


Watch a videotape of Erickson’s interrogation on YouTube

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Read more about this case in the Columbia Missourian

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Learn more about this case on CBS News’ ’48 Hours’ website

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Buy Richard Leo’s new book “Police Interrogation and American Justice” on Amazon.com

. (A portion of proceeds will benefit the Innocence Project if you use this link)

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