WBUR

Anatomy Of A Bad Confession, Part 2

On Wednesday, WBUR detailed the 2008 interrogation of a teenager by Worcester police that led to her arrest on the charge of murdering her baby. The interrogation raises troubling questions about the coercive power of detectives who are driven to extract confessions. It suggests how people might admit to crimes they may have not committed. This is Part 2. (See all reports.)

Nga Truong, with lawyers Jeff Richards, left, and Ed Ryan, on Monday. Ryan has called Truong's 2008 interrogation by Worcester police "psychological torture." (Lisa Tobin/WBUR)

Nga Truong, with lawyers Jeff Richards, left, and Ed Ryan, on Monday. Ryan has called Truong's 2008 interrogation by Worcester police "psychological torture." (Lisa Tobin/WBUR)

WORCESTER, Mass. — “This entire case went off the rails from the moment these two officers decided that Nga Truong was guilty,” says defense attorney Ed Ryan, who became the attorney for the Vietnamese-American 16-year-old after her arrest by Worcester Police in December 2008.

“This was a rush to judgment. Clean it up fast, let’s get the confession, let’s just nail it down.”

There’s a longstanding basis for the drive to get confessions. Nothing carries more weight with juries. According to years of behavioral research on jurors, not even DNA evidence has the power of these three words: “I did it.” A confession is deemed “the queen of all evidence.”

Some criminologists see modern American detective work as more concerned with getting confessions than with collecting facts. The videotape WBUR obtained after a series of motions and appeals shows how far Worcester Police detectives went in quest of that queen.

‘A Genuine Opportunity For A Meaningful Consultation’

It takes us inside an 8-by-10 room to the aggressive questioning by Detective Sgt. Kevin Pageau.

“And that’s why you smothered Khyle, didn’t you?” he asks.

“I did not,” Truong snaps.

“That’s why you smothered him, didn’t you?” Pageau repeats.

An unusually high conviction rate attaches to confessions obtained by police interrogation. To get his client’s confession thrown out, Ryan filed what’s called a motion to suppress evidence. And in November 2010, almost two years after Truong had been locked up to await trial, Judge Janet Kenton-Walker opened a hearing in Worcester Superior Court. Almost as soon as the judge turned on that videotape, problems started filling the screen.

Final Video Excerpt: 'I Smothered Khyle'

“You have the right to remain silent. Do you understand this right?”

Two generations of TV viewers watching cop shows have memorized Miranda warnings.

“You have the right to talk to a lawyer for advice before we ask you any questions, and to have him with you during questioning. Do you understand this right?” continues Pageau’s partner, Detective John Doherty.

But in the first three minutes of this video, Doherty and Pageau get it wrong. Somehow they don’t even know how old the suspect is.

“You’re going to be 18 in a couple days?” Doherty asks.

“I’m going to turn 17 in a couple days,” Truong replies.

After a telling pause, Pageau responds with surprise. “Oh, you’re not 17 yet?”

Here’s problem No. 1, because if she’s not 17, Truong is a juvenile. And as a juvenile, she must have “a meaningful or genuine opportunity to consult with the parent, interested adult, or attorney” about whether she should talk to police and do it without a lawyer present. There’s no evidence she ever got that chance.

“But you have spoken with your mother,” Pageau points out. “And you spoke with me, with your mother present yesterday, right? And your mother knows you’re here today.”

The detective is trying to make the problem go away. Instead of stopping to get the Miranda warnings right, Pageau keeps on going. He then tries to get Truong to say she had that opportunity to consult with her mother beforehand.

“It was OK with her and it was OK with you, right?” Pageau will continue to remind her throughout the interrogation.

Watching a copy of this interrogation, retired Superior Court Judge Robert Barton, who presided over 150 murder trials, observes, “It’s obvious because the sergeant is trying to put it together now.”

The detective is trying to fix what they have done wrong, Barton says, but what’s done can’t be undone.

“That was too late. The barn door was open.”

Retired State Police Detective William Powers, who now trains detectives, saw the same videotape and was equally clear. He refers to the rulings of the state’s highest court.

“By not conforming exactly with the rules as the court laid them out, that unfortunately sort of doomed this [interrogation and the eventual admission] from the very beginning,” Powers says.

After Judge Kenton-Walker listened to Pageau’s testimony in late 2010, she concluded that the detective was “not credible.” She ruled that the detectives never gave Truong “a genuine opportunity for a meaningful consultation.”

Had the police waited just two days, Truong would have turned 17 and the police would not have had to give her Miranda rights for a juvenile. She wouldn’t have required “a genuine opportunity for a meaningful consultation” with her mother or an attorney. But getting that confession seems to have been the detectives’ top priority.

WBUR's David Boeri Reflects On The Videos

A Series Of ‘Knowingly False Statements’

“Are we going to keep doing this or are you going to tell me what happened?” Pageau later presses.

“I did tell you what happened,” Truong replies.

“Cut the [expletive].”

“I’m not lying,” Truong pleads.

Here’s problem No. 2 for the police and the prosecution: Watching the tape, the judge found that Truong was “a frightened, meek, emotionally compromised teenager who never understood the implications of her statements.”

When the judge ruled that Truong’s confession was inadmissible (PDF), it practically wiped out the ability of Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early Jr. to prosecute Truong.

“Mistakes were made,” says Early, who takes great pains and even the passive voice to avoid naming the mistakes or the mistake-makers. He will say nothing critical of the Worcester Police Department, even though if there were a crime in this case, it would now go unpunished because of the actions of the two detectives. He takes time to praise Worcester Police.

“They do very good work,” Early says. “And we have a great working relationship with them.”

Yet the videotaped interrogation that the district attorney viewed showed far more disturbing problems than the simple failure to give Miranda warnings. And Kenton-Walker took the further step of throwing out Truong’s confession on a second set of grounds that would make it harder for the DA to get her ruling reversed by a higher court.

To extract her confession, Pageau and his partner told Truong a series of what the judge called “knowingly false statements,” like this one as Truong is pleading, “Please believe me:”

“I don’t believe you,” Pageau replies emphatically. “I believe the doctors who told me that they can tell by inspecting your son’s body that he was smothered.”

The doctors had said no such thing.

The judge described a pattern of deception, trickery and implied promises that led to the confession. First came the lie. Second came the promise: “We can get you help. First thing you have to do is admit you have a problem.”

Third came the suggestion of rewards: if Truong confesses, the cops say they’ll keep the matter in juvenile court. “It goes like this: You tell us what happened, we walk right out here, to special crimes juvenile … where punishment is minimal, if any,” Pageau tells her.

And here comes the threat if Truong doesn’t tell them what happened: “If this drags out we’ll push to try you as an adult.”

And if she does go to adult court, all bets are off, he warns, because he’ll bring in the medical examiner and the evidence — that really doesn’t exist — that she smothered her child and tell the jury how uncooperative she’s been.

“I don’t really care,” Pageau says. “I told your mother I don’t care about her, and I don’t care about you. I care about that baby.”

“With notable naiveté Nga believed what the officers told her,” the judge concluded, “since, after admitting she had smothered Khyle, all she wanted to know was whether she and her brothers would now be able to go to a foster home.”

Observes retired Judge Barton upon reading Kenton-Walker’s ruling, “One thing I did tell my wife while the child was being interrogated: ‘Thank God we have courts and judges.’ Because if you left it up to government with the police to decide if you’re guilty or not, that kid would have been strung up in the backyard that night. Because in their minds she’s guilty: give her the maximum punishment, next case.”

The judge’s ruling left District Attorney Early and his case without that queen of evidence: the confession. But he didn’t appeal her ruling.

“We made a decision at that point that an appeal wasn’t a viable option,” he says.

And going ahead with the murder case wasn’t a viable option either. So at the end of August, Early sent his first assistant to court to drop the case. The legal process is called “nolle pros” for short.

“There was no longer a confession in the case nor any physical evidence, so at that point the determination was made to nolle pros the case,” he says.

As he just said, there was no physical evidence.

Which raises the question of why the two detectives presumed Truong guilty in the first place. Remember the autopsy? It states that the cause of death is “undetermined.” And the death certificate reads: “asphyxial death consistent with but not exclusively diagnostic of suffocation.” Contributing factors, it says, are streptococcal pharyngitis [strep throat] and tracheobronchitis, which belonged to a history of respiratory problems involving asthma that required a nebulizer. And the boy’s body temperature was 101 degrees Fahrenheit an hour after he was dead. Whatever else may have happened to Khyle Truong, he was a sick boy.

And this, claims defense attorney Ryan, was a case of a false confession.

“They entered into this interrogation predisposed to extracting from this young woman the admission that she had killed her child,” he says, “and that’s exactly what they went about doing in an aggressive and despicable manner.”

Truong Speaks Again

Truong had been charged and kept in jail for two years and eight months on little more than that confession. And the confession was the product of coercion, according to the judge, who noted that the interrogation was “potentially coercive to the point of making an innocent person confess to a crime.”

“What was it like to get out?” I ask the smiling, attractive young woman sitting across the table from me. Truong is three years older than the girl I’ve seen in photographs standing before the court at her arraignment.

“What was it like? I can’t even explain it,” she says. “Like I got into school, I got a job. It’s been great.”

She has been out of jail for three months. She says she still feels like she’s 17, but she’s lost three years. Last week marked her 20th birthday and the third anniversary of her son Khyle’s death.

I get to the question I have to ask: “You told them you smothered Khyle. Why would you confess to committing something you didn’t do?”

“It was a pretty long two hours and all I could hear throughout those two hours was that they were going to give me help if I confessed,” she replies, and then stops. “I’m sorry,” she apologizes, then bows her head and starts crying.

She’s free all right, but she’s still too close to the interrogation room at Worcester Police headquarters.

I ask her what she would say if she ever had the chance to say something to the Worcester detectives who extracted her confession.

“Well when I first got in jail, I was really mad,” she begins, before correcting herself, “well, I wasn’t mad, I was upset that they would ever even thought [that I did that] or bringing my little brother into it.” (The little brother whose death was investigated and ruled to be sudden infant death syndrome, but which the detectives claimed was her first murder victim.)

“I remember them telling me they got the autopsy and it didn’t make no sense to me whatsoever,” Truong says. It was the autopsy they were lying about.

“They were just yelling at me,” she says. “I was so tired, I really didn’t pay attention … I never thought of the consequences. I just said it because they wanted me to.”

I ask: “When did you realize the significance or the consequences of what you had just told the police?”

“When they snapped those handcuffs on me,” she says.

Lessons Learned?

So were there any lessons learned here? “Like I said, Worcester does a very good job,” DA Early says. “This case here I believe is an aberration.”

But in January, the district attorney says, there will be a training session for State and Worcester Police detectives on interrogating criminal suspects. And he’s established a protocol of sending a prosecutor to work hand-in-hand with Worcester detectives on homicide cases.

“The purpose is to always get better,” Early says. “If you ignore your mistakes, you’re destined to repeat them. So you always want to learn from your mistakes.”

Truong, who’s struggling to build a future, says she wants to become a psychologist. She speaks with hope and faith in the future. She’s not angry anymore.

“Over the years I learned they [the cops] were just doing their job,” she says. “But really they were just forcing it on me.”

And what has the Worcester Police Department learned? What steps has it taken to hold its detectives accountable or make sure what happened to Truong doesn’t happen again?

The Worcester Police Department did not respond to our repeated requests for comment.

We called the chief. He referred us to the media liaison. We also asked to speak with Edward McGinn, who was the detective captain at the time of Truong’s arrest and assured reporters that his detectives had made sure all Truong’s Miranda rights were preserved, a claim rejected by the judge. McGinn was promoted to deputy chief. He too referred us to the media liaison.

We also reached out to the two detectives in the interrogation. Sgt. Pageau responded that department policy prevented him from talking. And he referred us the liaison.

The liaison, Sgt. Kerry Hazelhurst, never responded to our request or to the list of questions we emailed him.

There is no indication that the department ever took disciplinary action against the detectives or that it has taken any action to provide corrective training to its department of detectives.

Update: Wednesday night, the Worcester Police Department released the following statement:

On February 25, 2011, Judge Kenton-Walker issued an order suppressing the homicide confession of Ms. Nga Truong. Ms. Nga Truong was interviewed 2 days before her seventeenth birthday by Worcester Police Detectives in connection with the suspicious death of her son.

Judge Kenton-Walker noted because Ms. Nga Truong was not seventeen at the time of the interview that she did not have an opportunity for a meaningful consultation with an interested adult about whether to waive her rights as required by law. The judge also concluded that the statements were rendered involuntary because the totality of the circumstances suggests a situation potentially coercive to the point of making an innocent person confess to a crime. As a result, the judge ruled that the Commonwealth did not sustain its burden of proving the confession was voluntary.

The Worcester Police Department in collaboration with the District Attorney’s Office has agreed to address the issues raised by the judge in this case. The Worcester Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office have ongoing dialogue regarding criminal investigations. Since January 2011, by mutual agreement, the District Attorney is directly involved in all homicides and serious crimes investigated by the Worcester Police Department.

The detectives involved in this case continue to perform their duties as investigators with the full support and confidence of the police administration.

There will be no new additional information released at this time.

Updated 2/16/12:

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  • Anonymous

    Out of control and answerable to no one,  Whats new?

  • Joe110

    The Police in Worcester relaesed this statement “The detectives involved in this case continue to perform their duties as investigators with the full support and confidence of the police administration. ” If this is the case the Police administration should go too. Cops like this are a danger to everybody in the state. They are nothing else then criminals by adopting rules which are bared by the law in order to get the result they want and not what is right. I hope the girl finds some lawyers to sure the police so that they will think twice.

    • Doubting_Thomas

      There’s a reason that they refuse to let us have our second amendment rights in MA. They would like us to believe that they’re just minutes away, even if it’s seconds that count. And they don’t want us to be able to defend ourselves against those who are overzealous to protect “the many”, even if it means jailing the innocents among “the few”.

      • Armed in MA

        To go from the story of a girl coerced into a confession to a statement about needing firearms to protect yourself from the police is a leap that makes no sense. Talk about paranoia.

        By the way, last I checked, we have second ammendment rights here in MA.  I have an LTC, a rifle and a pistol – so who are you kidding? 
        In the situation where seconds count – chances are you would not be in a position to effectively use a firearm to protect yourself unless you were carrying the weapon all the time.  Hmmm – let’s see how you carry a concealed weapon at the beach (and you need to have it on your person at all times). Give me a break.

    • D_brina

      Joe110,
       I so agree with you.  I hope she does sue the Worcester Police Dept., if only to teach them a lesson (which I don’t think they will learn because they are so arrogant.)  At the very least, they should pay for her college education as she wants to go to school to become a psychologist.  Maybe they’ll end up on her couch someday :-)

  • Hozhere

    they took almost 3 years out of an innocent kid’ life  … how these detectives sleep at night

    • http://twitter.com/Sharoney Sharoney

      I just wonder if they have children of their own–and how they’d like to see them treated like this.

  • Frank M

    Dear OWS,
    Want to do something meaningful?  Occupy the Worcester Police Station until someone is held accountable for this incompetent police work.  Protest in front of the court house everyday.  When election time comes the voters need to turn out to vote in anyone but Early and it needs to be driven home this is why.  But none of that will happen.  I blame this whole mess on the majority of the people that cannot be bothered to keep abreast of events in their community and vote out the person responsible.  We do not need to fight for the 99% but we need to get the greater than 50% off their ass to make a difference. 

    Of course I could be wrong.  Maybe the community we live in really is ok with this stuff. 

  • Dwight Johnson

    As a taxpayer in the city of Worcester I am sickened by this.  The police involved it this interrogation should pay for their reprehenisible acts and the girl should be compensated for the years taken from her life.

  • Neena

    More chilling than this story is the Worcester Police Chief’s statement this week completely backing these detectives. He’s dug a deeper grave for Worcester taxpayers. Even DA Joe Early realized these guys need better training. Taxpayers are going to owe this young women millions for the almost three years of her life these improperly trained police took away. If the chief backs this kind of bad police work, wonder how many other wrongly accused people his department has put in prison.

  • Engarde

    Thanks to WBUR for bringing to light this reprehensible activity on the part of the Worcester Police detectives. Listening to this series is heartbreaking. Amazing that this young woman can still retain hopefulness. Any wonder that the police are held in such low regard?

  • Guest

    Just read Worcester Telegram story today on this case. The chief interrogator Sgt. Pageau now works for the police department’s Bureau of Professional Standards. I just spit out my coffee. 

    Here’s link: http://www.telegram.com/article/20111208/NEWS/112089614/1116

  • GHogan

    Thank you for this inside, eye-opening, and scary look behind closed doors. Your reporting certainly affected me and I hope leads to meaningful change.

  • Karen Seif

    Thank you for this heartbreaking story which reveals systemic problems in the juvenile justice, criminal justice, and child welfare systems.  The behavior of the police in this case is even more reprehensible because they used Truong’s history of neglect and trauma against her – to the extent of promising that her brothers would be cared for if she confessed. I hope this exposure will lead to tighter regulations, improved training, increased accountability, and better collaboration between our child welfare and criminal justice systems.

  • gary

    It’s my hope this incompetent detective lost his job. He represents the failed side of law
    enforcement.

    • Wakannai

      Unfortunately, as the article points out, he didn’t.  These people never have to pay the price for their wrong-doing, and so this is actually not all that surprising.  Now, if the cops were Vietnamese and the suspect was white, I wonder if this whole thing would have gone a bit differently?

      • Jubalboy

        Ignorance of the law is not a defense when you commit a criminal act and what these police did was criminal, ie child abuse.  I don’t think Nga being a Vietnamese had much to do with their actions.  These are typical cops who took advantage of a situation so that they could sit around the squad room and brag about how quickly they got a confession, even though no crime had been committed. So cops, unfortunately it is not a crime to be stupid like you, or nieve like Nga, but abuse of a child is illegal and I am wondering why you walk free, let alone kept your jobs.

  • Boston Baked Bean

    To say the detectives just need more training is rediculous.  Will training teach you it is wrong to lie to someone?  For the detective to say something they knew to be wrong and use it against a juvenile, it is highly unethical.  These detectives showed a great lapse in the inappropriateness of their actions.  Why would you want to keep someone like this on the force?  Do you really think more training will correct them?  Very unlikely.

  • Bert Bondy

    Thank you WBUR and David Boeri for this important investigative journalism. I am sympathetic Truong and outraged at the heavy handed and despicable tactics of the Worcester Police officers who arrested her! These two filthy cops bring down the rest of reputation of the Worcester Police Department. Furthermore, the statement from the WPD only add salt to the wounds of injustice that these two scumbags inflicted.

  • donnyt

    You know, if a citizen unknowingly breaks the law, they still have to face the penalties. When law enforcement break the law, whether unknowingly or not, they get … “full support and confidence of the administration” .. ??????????????????????????????

  • Billtrotta

    perplexed

    Who kill the baby?the boogie man,excuse me,who killed two babies? Maybe her and mom need a shrink  to look at them before someone else get killed.

    • Jeffrey Neal

      Now, I know this is a difficult concept but please try to follow along…  No one killed the baby.  The baby was sick and died of natural causes.  Thousands die that way each year.  Imagine that.      

    • Hayduke

      Captain Trotta, I know you’re a good guy. One of the best ever. But with all due respect, your question here contains a false premise. No one “killed the baby”. It’s obvious to anyone with an open mind, to anyone who doesn’t “have a pony in this race”- that the baby died from natural causes.

        And it’s beside the point. The point is the manner in which these two detectives crossed way, way over the line and browbeat a false confession from this girl. The point is that the Worcester cops wind up looking very, very bad because of what these two did. And that the Worcester taxpayers are going to have a lot less money to re-hire any of the laid off cops after the civil suit. This at a time when more cops are sorely needed, as you well know.

       Because if ever a jury gets the chance to take one look at the video tape, it’s all over for the taxpayers. No doubt this will be settled out of court. And it’s the taxpayers in Worcester who will be the big losers here.

      • http://twitter.com/Sharoney Sharoney

        BillTrotta is a police officer?

        That explains a lot about his presumptions.

        Beyond that, what you say, Hayduke.

    • dbgt

      Doesn’t if seem quite possible that there is a genetic predisposition to infant death here?  Quite possibly an end result of Agent Orange, of some other chemical the Grandmother was exposed to in her childhood?  The medical experts did not determine there was ever a murder.  Death does not equal murder.  This is sad, very sad, for this young lady.  I hope she files a law suit.  (Hint, hint:  http://www.civil-rights-law.org)  The only way WPD will learn is by trying to compensate this innocent person for the 2 years and 8 months they stole from her.  Really?  What is the going rate of missing your Senior Prom?  What is the pay of forcing this child to live amoung adult hardcore criminals for almost 3 years?  She even missed the funeral of her own son.  What those officers did was nothing short of child abuse, which is illegal in this state.  Had a parent inflicted the mental torture Nga endured – the parent would have faced serious jail time.  I for one question why the DA’s office ever went forward with the case, they would have had to have viewed the so-called confession.  So better for Nga – she can sue the city police and also the DA’s office.

    • donnyt

      this guy is obviously trolling

    • jonathan gibbs

      Perhaps it is you who requre the services of a “shrink” or perhaps just simply the ability to read and comprehend. Now that’s not too difficult a challenge for you is it? Are you still perplexed? So sorry, you’ll just have to live with it!

  • guest

    Great story. Thanks so much for this perspective!

  • guest

    I just donated $100 smackers after hearing this story. I get so much from wbur and always mean to donate. Stories like this shake me to action though. Keep’em coming! Real journalists are the best kind :v)

  • Hayduke

    Thank you WBUR and David Boeri for a truly outstanding piece
    of journalism. I think you deserve an Edward R. Murrow Award for what
    you have done here.

     To me, the most chilling part of this whole fiasco is the lesson
    learned by the Worcester Police Department and the office of District
    Attorney Early. They learned that they have to watch out for getting
    caught. Rather than condemn these bad cops for what they did to this
    girl- this clearly dysfunctional police department has vowed to work
    more closely with the DA- so they can do a more effective job of
    extracting false confessions.

     That the Chief of Police doesn’t have the fortitude to speak to the
    media about this tells us a lot too. The man is a coward. And then for
    the “media director” who they all hide behind to not return your calls
    or e-mails speaks volumes as well. These clowns have their wagons in a
    circle. They are hiding under their desks hoping this will all just
    blow over so they can browbeat the next person into a false confession.

     The Worcester Police Department doesn’t even seem to care that what
    they have done will no doubt cost the taxpayers of Worcester millions
    of dollars in civil court awards. (What jury, after watching the video,
    wouldn’t award this poor girl millions of dollars for the years of her
    life these thugs stole from her? Then consider that it was two White
    cops psychologically torturing an Asian girl. Nice going, Fellas.)

     The more I think about it, the more angry I become. And the more
    grateful I am that we have fantastic journalists like David Boeri out
    there.

  • Eileen

    Thank you WBUR, one more reason for our yearly support for your nstation. 

    If this is the standard for police departments, and I don’t doubt that it is unfortunately, please protect us from the so called law enforcement, as well as the criminals.  We have learned the first rule is do not say a word, without representation.

    Thank you to the two commited lawyers, Jeff Richards, and Ed Ryan.  I wish  Ms. Nga Truong peace in the future, and the financial ability to continue her education.  I am so  sorry for all that she had to endure.

  • Dave Seago

    If Worcester has an elected City Council or the equivalent, it should perform its role of holding the police chief accountable for proper oversight and discipline of department officers. My guess is that there is a potentially costly civil lawsuit in the city’s future — and that’s one reason the police department is staying mum and taking no action.

  • John395

    Just because the confession was thrown out does not mean she did not kil her baby. They did not follow the law when they interviewed her so the confession was dumped rightfully so but all you people think because of this that she did not kill her son. Unless you have all the evidence for the case don’t jump to her defense and think she has to be innocent

    • dbgt

      I hate to sound like a broken record, but get it, please - there is no evidence to support the conclusion that the baby was “killed.”  The only evidence there ever was, was a coerced confession from a child who had just suffered the death of the most important person in her life. All else points to a natural but tragic death.

        Listen, I get it that police should try hard to solve murders – but creating a murder out of a tragic natural death is not a solution.  And the way they went about it was CHILD ABUSE of the child/mother Nga. 

      So John395, if your mother were to die tonight (or some other significant person) and you happened to be there, that would not equal murder.  But if the police were to grab you the next day, and put you in “the box” and yell and scream at you and finally threaten you that if you did not “confess” things would be bad, but if you did – you could get help…. Get the picture?  So now you are saying:  (you) would never confess to a crime you did not commit, right? Well, therein lies the rub: You are not 16 years old. 

      As I see it, the only crime that we KNOW was committed was the child abuse delt out by the police.  As a result of that abuse, she was traumitized in the moment and lost three years of her life.

      In another post someone mentioned Occam’s Razor.  As I understand it, if there are more than one assuptions to be made, go with the simplist.  It is much easier to believe this was a sad tragic death – unless you are a police officer, looking to make a convicton. 

    • jonathan gibbs

      Did you not even read the article?  There was NO EVIDENCE to convict!  If there had been the police and the DA would have presented it! Do try a little critical thinking?

  • http://twitter.com/Sharoney Sharoney

    John395, did you even read the article? Did you even watch the tape? I believe the concept is “innocent until PROVEN guilty.” These bullies with badges had no proof, so they coerced a confession from a 16-year-old. Then they tried to send her to trial for murder based on that coerced confession — and nothing else.

    So why are YOU assuming she’s guilty? Because she’s not Caucasian?

    Just saying.

  • pkulig

    The baby still had a temp of 101 an hour after it had died that it was very sick with some sort of infection and elevated temperature. There was evidence of vomit on the baby and in the crib. Common sense tells you the baby more than likely vomited, choked on it and suffocated. I mean that would seem to be the most logical explanation. Plus the baby had respiratory problems and a history of asthma. It’s rather puzzling that the police took this immediate tact with this young girl accusing her of horrible and heinous things with no proof or evidence and in fact evidence pointing away from their twisted theory.

    Furthermore, an 8 year old causing the death of her baby brother while they were left home together? The baby logically couldn’t have been left in her “care” because she was only 8 years old, am young child herself.  Realistically she couldn’t  “care” for a baby. They were both negligently left home together, both equally uncared for.

     How horrible and ignorant are these two “officers of the law”? And do they face any significant consequences for their ignorant and deceitful actions?

    Note: at the very least they should be ordered to math class since upon seeing her birth date on her runaway record they were unable to calculate her age properly.

  • Juan-o

        So what is this “new training” for detectives going to be? First, talk to the the suspect off-camera?  Use the same sort of threats and inducements, but make them less explicit? Add “you’re talking to me voluntarily, right?” periodically?  There are many dodges police may learn to avoid legal challenges.  The real reform would be  to change the goal of interrogation from getting a confession to getting a voluntary statement. That reform isn’t coming anytime soon..

  • Sandiej1964

    I would like for someone to explain to me how a police officer, who is sworn to uphold the law and protect citizens, can get away with psychological torture when questioning a suspect. This was a child, who was already traumatized, up against adults who should have known better. It is against the law to lie to the police. Should the police at least be held to the same standards? This officers outright lied to this girl to get her to say what they wanted and promised to send her home afterward. Who would not confess in similar circumstances? Criminal justice is supposed to be just that- justice. Justice does not mean coercing a false confession out of a child. These men have no business in the criminal justice system! And they should be sanctioned for their actions!

  • NUTZ

    Blatant sadism by institutional psychopaths devoid of  human sensitivity.

  • jonathan gibbs

    It is my hope that these police officers and their DA stooge pay the price for their criminal stupidity and knowingly violating Ms Truong’s civil rights.  Their attitude already reflects that not only do they not give a damn for what their actions did to this young woman, but the  Worcester Police Department as well as they, lack the moral courage to confess their guilt and wrong doings. As far as any disciplinary action, these scum cops and their chief are totally convinced that this incident will be forgotten by the media and the public at large and they are safe and secure in their little corrupt clique.  Let’s see how they fare in a trial base on real evidence and actions! These bozo’s need to go down and compensation needs to be awarded to the victim, which in reality can never cover the cost of what this innocent young lady has gone through or lost…let see the Worcester Police release a statement about that!  It is a testament to the quiet  courage and determination of Nga Truong that she has not let this gross injustice scar her or stop her from setting her sights for her dreams of the future. 

  • Anonymous

    This case is a perfect example of why police interrogations should always be videotaped. Too many states still do not require police interrogations to be taped. Without that tape, the judge in this case may not have been as convinced that the confession was coerced, especially since Miss Truong was questioned for only two hours before she confessed — not a very long time for an interrogation.

    Without the tape, it would have come down to the two cops’ version of what took place inside the interrogation room as opposed to what Miss Truong and her lawyers had to say about it.

    Police and prosecutors love to obtain confessions because they are often too lazy to conduct a proper and thorough investigation. Once they become convinced a particular suspect is guilty, they get tunnel vision and are blind to any clues, facts and information that does not support their theory of the case.

    It’s doubtful that having a DA present during interrogations will improve the situation much — DAs are often just as lazy as the cops, and thus love confessions just as much as the police.

    It’s extremely rare for a local judge to supress a confession, even when faced with convincing evidence that coercive methods were used and the Miranda warning was not properly given. The judge in this case deserves credit for doing the right thing. 

    And the reporters who worked on this story also deserve a lot of credit for dissecting what happened and explaining it in clear terms to their readers.

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