Skip to main content

On his second and final appeal, New York Courts finally ruled that Adrian Thomas had not voluntarily confessed when he agreed to confess to killing his child in order to avoid the arrest of his wife.

But that's just the beginning of what was wrong with the case. . .

opinion
http://www.nycourts.gov/...

the movie
http://scenesofacrime.com/...

The court says:

Defendant was convicted by a jury of murdering his four-month-old son, Matthew Thomas. The evidence considered by the jury included a statement in which he admitted that on three occasions during the week preceding the infant's death he "slammed" Matthew down on a mattress just 17 inches above the floor and a videotape of defendant's interrogation, near the end of which defendant, a particularly large individual (c. 300 lbs), demonstrated how he raised the infant above his head and threw him down with great force on the low lying mattress.
The truth is that doctors killed the child by missing the cause of his death, and pointed the finger at the father:
   What is perhaps most remarkable about this case is the way it began. When police went to the hospital to look into the death of [Adrian] Thomas’ son, they were met by Dr. Walter Edge, who not only told them that the infant had died of a fractured skull but added, in no uncertain terms, “somebody murdered this child.”

    Roused to action by this declaration, detectives looked around for likely suspects, saw one in the infant’s very large father, and turned the situation into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Armed with the zeal of the righteous, they believed nothing would do unless Thomas could be made to confess in exactly the way they thought he should. Which is what eventually happened.

At the risk of ruining the suspense, I note that Thomas’s son Matthew did not in fact have a fractured skull—nor did he show any bruising, grip marks, or other external signs of either shaking or impact—and laboratory tests later revealed a serious systemic infection, missed by not only the treating doctors but also the pathologist who performed the autopsy.

How did police get an innocent man to act out a murder confession? It took 17 hours of interrogation and the following lies (again, quoting from the court opinion):
This record, however, is replete with false assurances. Defendant was told 67 times that what had been done to his son was an accident, 14 times that he would not be arrested, and 8 times that he would be going home. These representations were, moreover, undeniably instrumental in the extraction of defendant's most damaging admissions. When Sergeant Mason suggested that defendant had thrown Matthew down on the bed, defendant protested repeatedly that he was being asked to admit that he had intentionally harmed his son. To each such protest, Mason responded that what defendant had done was not intentional, often adding an elaborate explanation of why that was so. In this way, and after a final appeal from Mason to provide the "proper information to relate to the hospital and talk to the doctors to keep your son alive," defendant at last agreed that he argued with Ms. Hicks and then threw Matthew down on the bed.
And:
Defendant initially agreed to take responsibility for his son's injuries to save his wife from arrest. His subsequent confession provided no independent confirmation that he had in fact caused the child's fatal injuries. Every scenario of trauma induced head injury equal to explaining the infant's symptoms was suggested to defendant by his interrogators. Indeed, there is not a single inculpatory fact in defendant's confession that was not suggested to him. He did not know what to say to save his wife and child from the harm he was led to believe his silence would cause. It was at Mason's request and pursuant to his instructions, that defendant finally purported to demonstrate how he threw the child. And after Mason said that he must have thrown the child still harder and after being exhorted not to "sugar-coat" it, he did as he was bid. Shortly after this closely directed enactment, defendant was arrested.
So now you know how an innocent man has been in custody since 2008.
EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (17+ / 0-)

    "Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world for a better place." -- Mandela

    by agoldnyc on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 04:55:29 PM PST

  •  They overturned his conviction (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    agoldnyc

    because the cops said some untrue things while interrogating him. But they did not "rule him not guilty" as you put it. They overturned the conviction because it depended partly on his confession, and ordered a new trial. That is a far cry for ruling him not guilty. Keep in mind that no matter what the cops said in his interrogation, he could still be guilty as hell (as are most caregivers whose infant charges die of wounds consistent with beatings). A baby is dead, and this man is still by far the prime suspect. I wouldn't get too excited about his innocence just yet.

    •  Maybe you missed this quote: (9+ / 0-)
      At the risk of ruining the suspense, I note that Thomas’s son Matthew did not in fact have a fractured skull—nor did he show any bruising, grip marks, or other external signs of either shaking or impact—and laboratory tests later revealed a serious systemic infection, missed by not only the treating doctors but also the pathologist who performed the autopsy.
      •  No, I'm well aware of that (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lujane

        fact. But it is only a claim, and not proven to be the cause of death. Beating a baby to death is such a heinous crime that these cops went over the line in trying to extract a confession. It would be a shame if their actions are responsible for freeing a guilty man. In any event, the diary simply is not accurate in claiming that the higher court deemed the defendant "not guilty". If they had, he couldn't face trial again. And they specifically ordered a new trial.

      •  I do wonder how many others (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lujane, StrayCat

        were falsely convicted to cover up the doctor's failures.

        "Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world for a better place." -- Mandela

        by agoldnyc on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 06:55:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  they suppressed the confession (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis, Kathy Scheidel

      which means that at the new trial, there's no evidence to convict him

      this actually raises another interesting question --

      will the DA press for conviction or drop the case? DA has prosecutorial discretion, and can choose to drop the case. Far too many never drop even the worst cases.

      "Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world for a better place." -- Mandela

      by agoldnyc on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 06:36:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site