Saturday, October 6, 2012

Hughes News: False Confession = Death

Associated Press Article dated September 29, 2012

NEW ORLEANS – A 38-year-old man wrongly convicted of raping and killing his 14-year-old step-cousin in 1997 was released Friday from Louisiana's death row after his confession was determined to be false and DNA tests found him to be innocent.

Damon A. Thibodeaux was released at about 12:30 p.m. after spending 15 years on death row at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, said Pam Laborde, a spokeswoman for the Louisiana Department of Corrections. ...

The Innocence Project said the review of Thibodeaux's case also revealed that Champagne had not been raped and that she had not been murdered in the manner described by Thibodeaux in his confession.

Defense attorney Steve Kaplan said Thibodeaux's false confession was "a tragic illustration" of why police officers should be required to videotape interrogations. He said juries need to be shown entire interrogations to determine "whether it's truthful and reliable not only in light of the interrogation methods used in obtaining the confession, but also in light of other evidence that contradicts or disproves the confession." ...

"There can be no stronger argument against capital punishment than the condemnation of a truly innocent man," said LeBoeuf. "Louisiana citizens should demand a moratorium on executions until they can be assured that there are no more miscarriages of justice like the one that occurred in this case."

Since 2000, six people have been exonerated from Louisiana's death row, the Innocence Project said. Scheck said Thibodeaux was the 18th death row inmate in the United States to be exonerated by DNA.