Dallas Morning News Says Innocence Claim Shows Flawed Justice System
An editorial in Saturday’s
Dallas Morning News
pointed out the cracks in Texas’ criminal justice system in the wake of prosecutorial misconduct and new DNA evidence pointing to the innocence of Dennis Lee Allen and Stanley Orson Mozee.
Days after the Innocence Project and the Innocence Project of Texas joined local counsel to file legal papers urging a Dallas County court to overturn Allen and Mozee’s murder convictions, which were based largely on false confessions, the editorial stressed the need to pass legislation for mandatory recording of interrogations. The
Dallas Morning News
Key to the prosecutions is what transpired between Mozee and a detective in the interrogation room. The detective said the suspect was well-rested and lucid for the last session. Mozee said he was strung out on drugs and alcohol and was off his psychiatric medication. Moreover, he said the detective threatened him with these words: “Somebody’s going to get the needle, and it’s going to be you if you don’t come up with something.” That last interrogation ended with Mozee signing a statement depicted by prosecutors as a confession but later disputed by the suspect himself. Further, it was at odds with other evidence in the case, the Innocence Project brief says.
The phenomenon of false or coerced confessions has been established in recent years as contributing to an alarming percentage of convictions later overturned by DNA tests. It would be foolish for state lawmakers to ignore the chance to build in a common-sense safeguard and require police to start a recording when they formally question a suspect. Jurors would be thankful for eliminating the guesswork.
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