Richard Diguglielmo: Police Coercion of Witnesses Leads to a Wrongful Conviction

Richard Diguglielmo, a New York City police officer, was convicted of murder and sentenced to 20 years to life in prison, based upon the testimony of eyewitnesses to the incident whose statements at the crime scene were consistent with self defense. After hours and hours of interrogation, over a period of two weeks, the eyewitnesses shockingly changed their statements to fit the charges of murder and depraved indifference to human life, proffered by the Westchester County District Attorney.

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Da'ron Cox

In November 1996 Brian Roberts pointed an automatic weapon at a police officer and was arrested. He was carrying 34 rocks of crack cocaine. He walked free after telling police the gun and drugs belonged to Roland Cephas.

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Jason Derrick

In the early morning hours of June 25, 1987, the life of Florida shop owner Rama Sharma came to an abrupt and tragic end. Four days later, the life of 20 year old Samuel Jason Derrick also took a tragic turn when he was charged with the murder despite the absence of any physical, forensic or DNA evidence connecting him to the crime.

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Ward & Fontenot

They were literally dreamed onto death row. And in spite of the fact that the dream has been proven false - and proven false again and again in multiple ways - Karl Fontenot and Tommy Ward remain in prison. Tommy Ward, for hours, told police he didn't kill Denice Haraway. He told them, however, that he had a dream about her. That was good enough for the Ada, Oklahoma police. And for the interrogators from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. It took them nine hours of questioning in a locked room for officers to extract the confession from Tommy. Karl, an impressionable street kid with no family and few friends, was easier to break. After only two hours the police had another confession, one suspiciously similar to Tommy's. Problem was that the confessions shared some of the same wrong information.

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Karlyn Eklof

Karlyn Eklof was convicted of the murder of James Salmu. After eight to ten hours of daily interrogation for nine days, Eklof recited on videotape a police invented scenario in which she stabbed Salmu with a plastic knife. Eklof was prosecuted for Salmu's murder based on this "confession." Following Eklof's indictment, Salmu's body was found. At trial, testimony was presented indicating that Salmu had been stabbed. The prosecution then presented Eklof's confession, which appeared to agree with the cause of death as she confessed to stabbing Salmu. The prosecution also presented the testimony of two witnesses who made incriminatory statements against Eklof.

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Frank Pauline

While riding her bicycle, 23-year-old Dana Ireland was hit by a car. Then she was taken to a remote area 5 miles north of the collision site where she was raped and murdered. Two-and-a half years later an Oahu inmate, Frank Pauline, Jr., came forward with information. He said that in exchange for the information he wanted the authorities to look kindly on his half-brother who was facing drug charges.

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Juan Rivera

juanriveraJuan Rivera was convicted of the 1992 murder and sexual assault of eleven-year-old Holly Staker in Waukegan. No physical evidence ever linked Rivera to the crime. The prosecution's case was based on statements Rivera made to the police in the middle of the night after four days of intensive interrogation and at a time when medical personnel at the jail determined that he was in a psychotic state.

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Max Soffar

max soffar, False ConfessionsMax Soffar is currently on death row due to a false confession that implicated him in an armed robbery at a Bowling center in Houston, TX during which 3 persons were killed and one severely injured. This occurred in 1980. He was questioned for three days and the statements that he made were either available through the media or that were told to him. There was not a lawyer present when he was questioned. At the time he was a drug addict and was not able to fully realize the seriousness of the situation he got himself into by this. When he later recanted it was too late and he ended up being charged with murder and was sentenced to death.

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Daniel Taylor

17-year-old Daniel Taylor signed a 29-page confession at 5:52am, after hours of interrogation, taking responsibility for a double murder in the Uptown area around 9pm on December 16, 1992. The eyewitness to the murders insisted that Taylor was not one of the 4 men that she had seen leaving the murder scene, despite police pressure that she corroborate the confession. Immediately upon learning that he had been charged with the murders, Taylor asserted an alibi: he was in police custody at the time of the deaths.

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Billy Wayne Cope

"Neighbors, friends, and fellow churchgoers from the Rock Hill, S.C. community (a suburb of Charlotte) were stunned when 38 year old Billy Wayne Cope was arrested and charged with beating, sexually assaulting, and murdering his 12 year old daughter Amanda in December 2001. .... He was charged when, after 4 days of interrogation, he confessed on videotape to the murder during a crime scene reenactment at his home. None of the preceding days of interrogation had been recorded. And an evaluation of Cope shortly after his arrest showed that he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of finding his daughter dead."

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Tyrone Noling

"In 1997, a year after Tyrone Noling was sentenced to death for gunning down an elderly couple in their home, Butch Wolcott and two other men who placed Noling at the crime scene signed affidavits saying their confessions were false. Ron Craig, the Portage County prosecutor's investigator, had put words in their mouths and pressured them, they claimed. Noling is innocent, they said."

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