The Truth About Fear – George’s Interrogation

 George did not confess.
  He did, after hours of pressure, make incriminating statements.
 George was so drunk on the night of October 10, 1997 that he couldn’t remember much of the night, and was perfectly primed for deception.
    The police lied to him about evidence, lied and said his friend’s said he was at this crime scene, lied and said blackouts are scientifically impossible, lied and gave him two choices: admit you were there, or be framed for a brutal beating and sexual assault of a child.
   Please, read the post about Eugene’s Interrogation, and use the links in it to educate yourself about false confessions. Much of what is said regarding false confessions is of huge significance in George’s interrogation as well, but for brevity do not want to rehash it in this post.
   George’s interrogation began at the Fairbanks Memorial Hospital. Although it is required by law that interrogators record all of an interrogation, George’s transcripts have some glaring issues. First, logic makes it seem that the interrogation began long before the recording began. Secondly, mid-way through George says “I want to go home.” If, in fact, he had asked to go home the police would have HAD to let him go. But they allege that the detective stepped out of the room, George said that to himself, and then the detective re-entered. His police interview following the statement “I want to go home” was deemed inadmissable in court, which means that the incriminating statements he made toward the end were not used to convict him.
   George, like Eugene, was incredibly intoxicated during his interview. He began drinking the night before and drank through the morning and into the afternoon. He came to the hospital with a hurt foot. Crystal Sisto, his girlfriend at the time who spent the night with George says he hurt his foot when a wrestling match between he and his cousin over the last cigarette went from lighthearted to a bit too intense. George did not remember how he hurt his foot. He told the nurse he hurt it in a fight. The nurse decided that his hurt foot was connected to the victim dying in ICU and alerted police, who established that he knew Eugene Vent (already being questioned) and came to the hospital to question him.
   Through much of the interrogation he is confused. For example, he thinks that Eugene is actually the victim, and person in ICU. He denies involvement for most of the interview. For hours they insist that his friends have said he was there at the crime scene and kicked John Hartman. When he tries to call one of the named friends, they tell him he cannot. Like in Eugene’s interrogation, the police lie about the evidence, they tell him that there is blood on his boot, that his footprint has been matched to the victim’s wounds. George had been blacked out drunk for much of the night, and in reality knew little of his movements after about 1:30am.  After the detective comes in and says they have Marvin Roberts, he finally relents and agrees to the scenario the police have been laying out for may hours. Perhaps it was a tipping point – Marvin was well known as an honest, sober kid. Believing that Marvin had said he was there may well have convinced him that he was.
     The premise the police use through George’s entire interrogation is saying that a claim of being blacked out drunk was a lie, that it is scientifically impossible (this, of course, was itself a lie). George asks for a hypnotist to help recover the memory. He tells them repeatedly that he is scared. For hours he insists he does not remember much of the night. The interrogators insist that his options are to admit having kicked the victim a few times, or continue claiming that he has no memory and have them “assume the worst.” They insist that the others are pointing fingers at George if he claims to have no memory. They insinuate that he will be framed for a brutal beating and sexual assault of a young boy if he doesn’t admit to having been there.
      After hours, George caves and agrees that he was probably there, and probably kicked the person. Immediately following admitting that he was there, he recants and says “I don’t f**king really remember all that sh*t.”
     As the interview continues he answers most questions with “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember.” The tape then cuts out again, and when the recording begins again he answers a series of questions. Ultimately, he is given two scenarios. One is bad, one is worse. He picks the lesser of two evils.
      When I read this interrogation, I hear the voice of a terrified incredibly drunk friend navigating the worst experience of his life, and know now what he probably feared most at that time – that this interview was the first in a series of events that would separate him from his family, from the daughter he loved perfectly. That type of fear is a tactic, the truth is that fear can be used like a weapon to break a person down. The truth is that a drunk, confused, manipulated, scared kid will say about anything to get away from that kind of fear, even if the reprieve is brief.