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Outrage Of The Week: Interrogating An 8 Year Old Without Counsel And Without Miranda Warnings

by @ 9:07 am on November 21, 2008. Filed under Individual Liberty, Legal

The story of an eight-year old boy who police say committed a double murder is raising the eyebrows of many legal analysts:

(CBS/AP) The 8-year-old boy accused of killing his father and another man in Eastern Arizona was subjected to an “absurd” police interrogation, a legal analyst told CBS’ The Early Show Thursday.

“What we know is that children under 12 are especially susceptible to questioning by an adult,” legal analyst Lisa Bloom said.

The roughly 12-minute video posted Monday night on Phoenix television station KTVK’s Web site shows what police say is a confession to the Nov. 5 shooting deaths. The station said it got the video from the prosecutor’s office in Apache County, where the shootings occurred.

“I think I shot my dad because he was suffering, I think,” the boy said toward the end of the hour-long interrogation, though Bloom notes that the admission comes only after repeated officer questioning.

“Children tell authority figures what they think the authority figure wants to hear,” said Bloom. “This child was not Mirandized; there was no attorney for him in that room; there was no parent or legal guardian. He was simply answering questions by two police officers in uniforms with guns.”

(…)

Children this age believe in the tooth fairy, they believe in magic … it’s absurd,” said Bloom. “This child should not be in juvenile court or adult court, in my opinion. He should be a ward of the family court and get some social service attention.”

Prosecutors have 15 days to decide if that’s the route they want to take.

How this can be allowed to happen is beyond me. Eight year olds don’t have the mental capacity to understand what a police interrogation is all about. Even if they had read him his Miranda rights, he probably wouldn’t have understood them. The fact that the police continued to question him, and basically led him down a path that resulted in him admitting to murder is, quite frankly, outrageous.

Here’s a CBS report on the story:

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