We the jury find you Freddy Falseconfession GUILTY of murder! There was a round of gasps and cries in the courtroom, the stone-faced Judge peered through glasses thick enough to stop a bullet with his cold blue emotionless eyes and yelled “order in the court!” Any further outbursts in my courtroom and somebody’s going to jail! He banged his gavel 3 times as hard as he could to signal that he meant business.
Freddy was led back to his jail cell, his 17-year-old frail frame barely able to keep his suit pants from falling down. The suit coat provided by the public defender’s office seemed to swallow his upper body completely, leaving his pencil neck and small head as the only body parts exposed. He was barely able to lift his head after hearing the verdict but somehow managed to find his mother in the gallery and forced a fake smile for her before he disappeared into a sea of Sheriff Deputies. After the courtroom cleared, only Sara Singlemother remained, she sat glued to her seat, almost as if she believed that if she just stayed a little longer, she could somehow will the jurors back to the courtroom with a NOT GUILTY verdict.
Flashback two years prior. Sara Singlemother had just gotten home from her second job at the Amazon plant in Whitestown. When she got out of the shower, she noticed that she had 3 missed calls in a row from a “City of Indianapolis” number. She called back and a female voice on the other end answered, “IMPD East District Homicide Detective Donttrustem speaking,” Sara’s heart pounded like it would leap from her chest, her mind went blank and she could hardly speak but she managed to blurt out “Sara Singlemother returning a missed call.” Ms. Singlemother thank you for calling back, ma’am your son Freddy is here with me please…before she could finish her sentence, Sara was almost dressed and headed to the East District.
At East District, Detective Donttrustem picked up where she left off before Sara hung up on her and explained that they were investigating a homicide and she wanted to take Freddy’s statement because Freddy had been seen in the area. Donttrustem assured Sara that her son was not a suspect, wasn’t in any trouble but that since he was a minor, the police needed her consent to speak with her son about what he may have observed and then he’d be allowed to go home. She also assured her that she could be present when they talked to him. Sara was given time to talk to Freddy in private about whether he should make a statement and then she rang the buzzer for the Detective to return. Detective Dontrusttem assured Sara again that the statement would only take a few minutes and then they’d be allowed to leave. After hearing this, Sara signed the consent form WITHOUT EVEN READING IT and had Freddy sign as well and gave it to the detective.
With the signed waiver of rights in hand, Detective Donttrustem thanked them for their cooperation and nodded to Detective Deception to begin the questioning. With the encouragement of his mother that he could trust the police and should answer their questions truthfully, Freddy confirmed that he frequently hung out at the Felony Apartments at the corner of 42nd and Postponed Dreams, that he was there the day before, and the description of his clothing down to his new Nike Air Force 1’s, True Religion jeans and his black and gray Supreme Hoodie. He also confirmed that he knew Dashanae and Destiny, twins who lived on the 2nd floor of building 187 there.
The Detectives turned around and left the room and nodded to 3 uniformed officers standing outside the door. The uniformed officers entered the room, told Freddy to stand up and turn around to be handcuffed because he was under arrest for the murder of 12-year-old Innocent Annie. Sara was shocked, she believed that the Officers were mistaken and demanded that the detectives come back to clear things up so that she and Freddy could go home. She was told that the detectives had left for the evening and that she would have to call in the morning. With that she was escorted from the station and told that Freddy would be allowed to call her soon.
Sara was a mess. Too nervous to drive, she called her sister to pick her up and explained to her all that happened that evening. Did Sara Singlemother handle things correctly as a parent? Can the police lie during an investigation to get a confession? Will Sara’s consent hold up even though she didn’t read it before signing? TO BE CONTINUED NEXT MONTH when I answer these questions and more related to false confessions, police investigation tactics, special rights afforded to juveniles, etcetera.
Corey L. Scott, 1099 N. Meridian Street, Suite 150, Indianapolis, IN 46204 (317) 623-4546, www.coreyscottlaw.com; @coreyscottlaw.com Facebook.com/coreyscottlaw, Instagram: coreyscottlaw