Robert Gonzales, 22, spent more than two years in a New Mexico jail awaiting trial for a murder he didn’t commit before DNA testing led authorities to the actual perpetrator of the crime. Gonzales, who has a history of mental illness, allegedly confessed to his involvement in the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl in 2005, and a grand jury decided that the confession was enough evidence to hold him for trial. But new DNA testing indicates that Israel Diaz, in custody for another crime, actually committed this murder and rape. Gonzales’ attorney, Jeff Buckels, said he confessed because he wanted to please the officers interrogating him.
"For Robert, it basically was a matter of finding out 'What is it that these police officers want me to say,?'" said Buckels. " When he found out, he said it."
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. (KOAT Albuquerque, 06/27/08)
False confessions or admissions have played a part in more than 25 percent of the 218 wrongful convictions overturned by DNA testing to date, and have been involved in a countless number of cases like Gonzales’, in which a defendant is arrested based on a confession or admission, then released when other evidence reveals the truth.
The Innocence Project recommends electronic recording of police interrogations to prevent false confessions.
Read more on this critical reform here