Court Tosses Confessions Over Cops' Lies: News Reports

A New Rochelle resident is one of two men convicted of homicide whose confessions were in effect coerced, New York state's highest court has ruled.

The New York State Court of Appeals says that New Rochelle police detectives's lies to a suspect in a 2009 drug overdose case were unacceptable.

The decision Feb. 20 concerned two cases in which police lied to men they were interrogating. In both cases, the lies involved telling a suspect that a loved one was alive when in fact one had ODd and the other was brain-dead. 

In both cases, records including videos showed detectives repeating and refining the lies throughout the interrogations. The court found that after a certain level, the lies could "overwhelm [a] defendant's free will," Newsday reported. 

The appeals of both cases were closely watched as the justices considered "what is and what is not an acceptable level of deception and coercion during interrogations," according to the Huffington Post.

The New Rochelle case involved resident Paul Aveni.

Summing up the case on his Huffington Post blog, law professor Steve Drizin said, "Aveni's girlfriend, Angela Camillo, died of a drug overdose on Jan. 12, 2009, in Aveni's mother's home. Detectives from the New Rochelle Police Department arrested Aveni and brought him to the stationhouse for questioning. At that time, detectives knew something that Aveni didn't -- that Camillo had died. To get Aveni to confess to injecting Camillo with a lethal cocktail of drugs, detectives lied to Aveni, telling him that she was alive and that her doctors might be able to save her if Aveni told them which drugs he had injected her with."

Aveni then told the detectives he had given Camillo Zanax and heroin. He was charged and prosecuted by the Westchester County District Attorney's Office. He was convicted of criminally negligent homicide and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

Drizin said when the appellate court heard Aveni's appeal, the judges agreed that the confession had been coerced with the implicit threat that if he didn't help save Camillo's life he could be charged with homicide.

With this decision by New York's highest court, Aveni's case goes back to the appellate division, Newsday said.

The Westchester District Attorney's Office had no public reaction. "As the case is over, we don't care to comment," said spokesman Lucian Chalfen.

The second case involved Adrian Thomas, a man whose son had just died. Police told him the 4-month-old was still alive and doctors needed details of how he had been injured to save his life. 

According to Drizin, "The recording of Thomas' interrogation shows how the Rochester detectives systematically broke Thomas' will by threatening to charge his wife if he did not confess, lying to him about the medical causes of his son's injuries (telling him that the doctors determined that his son had suffered a skull fracture as a result of a high-impact head injury), and suggesting to him that his son's death was just an accident. After Thomas finally admitted to "dropping the baby" on the bed, detectives then coached him to act out just how hard he "threw" his child on the bed."

In fact, medical records showed later the boy did not die of injuries but of sepsis from a bad infection, Drizin said.

Bertrand de Frondeville February 22, 2014 at 05:05 PM
Re: rogue detectives, are any of the police involved going to be fined for recovering the costs of litigation? A recent case in NY State was settled for $6M instead of the $69M litigation because of a couple of "rogue detectives" and they apparently have not been charged with anything... When will the real perps be charged for taxpayers relief???
RyeDad February 22, 2014 at 08:55 PM
When I first saw this headline I thought the article may be about Rye Police Officer Christine Incalcatera.
Ross Revira February 23, 2014 at 08:55 AM
Very misleading headline. No detective lied under oath in court. They lied to the murderers while being interrogated after they were Mirandized. I hope the people who applaud this decision are never victims of crime.
JJ February 23, 2014 at 09:27 AM
Yep, the Police have to play by the Marquess of Queensberry rules ; however criminals can lie all day long. "That's not my gun"..."that's not my dope"...."I didn't kill that man". They didn't violate this guy's rights. They stretched the truth just like he was doing.
Bob Zahm February 24, 2014 at 11:36 AM
And this article is related to Rye how? Lanning I suspect that you and the other (remaining) Patch editors are under tremendous pressure to get content on the Patch sites, but please try to either keep them directly relevant to Rye or make clear in the title the town/city/village to which the article relates.


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