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Court of Appeals — Voluntary Statements: People v. Thomas

New York State Court of Appeals

Voluntary Statements

Coercive Deceptions

People v. Thomas
No. 18
Judge Lippman

Background: The defendant was convicted by a jury for murdering his four-month old son. The defendant had given a statement that he had dropped the child into the crib wherein the child slammed his head.

Ruling: The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded for a new trial on the grounds that the defendant’s inculpating statements were not voluntary. During the interrogation, the officers had misinformed the defendant regarding the medical status of the victim. Specifically, the officers told the defendant that the child was alive and his survival could depend on the defendant’s disclosure of how he had caused the child’s injuries.

Jerome K. Frost and Ingrid Effman for the appellant; Kelly L. Egan for the respondent