To get a killer’s confession, courts have said
acting like a concerned parent is okay.
Polygraph examiner Kathy Cardwell was asked by police to give an 18-year old murder suspect a polygraph test:
She calmed down the distraught 18-year-old, calling him a "young puppy" and "poor guy," comparing him to her own sons, telling him she loved him and offering him a hug. When he said he was still nervous, Cardwell told him the polygraph was "a piece of cake," that "the cops" couldn’t tell her what to ask him and that she would get him through the test.
He didn’t take the test, but admitted to her that he had commited the murder. He was tried and sentenced to life in prison without parole. In his appeal, his attorneys argued that his confession was involuntary since it was psychologically coerced. The courts disagreed, saying that "empathic and parental questioning" of a suspect was not coercion, and that the type of deception used was allowed.
David Fernando Ortiz must remain in prison for the rest of his life.
– Soft words and a touch of deception produce a confession, San Francisco Chronicle>>
– Image is a cropped section of a portrait of the artist Van Gogh’s mother