Cases Demonstrate How Video Recording Protects the Confession Part I

Two cases from late 2013 show us clear benefits to how video recording protects confessions. This month we highlight, State v. Walker (November 2013)

An appeals trial was held to determine whether the assigned guilt and sentencing of a man accused of murdering two women in June of 2011 should be overturned.

During the previous trial, confession made by the defendant via a digital audio and video recording system was deemed admissible and shared with the court. The defendant had pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two life in prison terms, but after this, he appealed the decision emphasizing that his confession was coerced.

Video recordings, according to the full story made available via PDF via John E. Reid & Associates Inc. from Westlaw with permission of Thomson Reuters, revealed all of the following:

  • That the defendant had been advised of his rights
  • That the defendant appeared to be relieved to be reciting events as they occurred
  • That the defendant was brought and ate dinner during confession
  • That the defendant was allowed to smoke
  • That the defendant told officers he had completed his high school equivalency diploma and had no trouble reading and writing.

As a result, in State v. Walker (November 2013) the Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Second Circuit held that the defendant’s confession was admissible.

The fact is that because law enforcement followed protocol in obtaining a free and voluntary confession on multiple occasions, and this could be verified via video recording, the defendant’s appeal did not change the final outcome of his sentencing.

The report explained that: “[the] Defendant complains that he did not understand his Miranda rights or have the ability to comprehend his actions. He asserted that he did not knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waive his rights prior to giving the confession. On appeal, he argues that his confession was the product of fear, duress, intimidation, menaces, threats, inducements and/or promises. The trial court was correct to conclude that defendant’s statements, including his confession, were freely and voluntary made.”

Then, the compelling evidence from video recorded interrogation:

“Twice on the video, the defendant is re-advised of his rights. He begins reciting the events as they occurred and appears relieved to be doing so. He is brought dinner during the confession, and he eats. He is allowed to smoke. There is no coercion.”

Click to read the complete decision.

While Lousiana currently has no statue or court rule relating to recording, the fact is that justice was able to be served, time saved and the court’s decision maintained because law enforcement chose to use a video and audio recording system that could be played back and without question refute the defendant’s argument for appeal.

To learn how your law enforcement department can adopt the best recording equipment, contact iRecord today.

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