But it is also important to remember that some people cope poorly with stress, Gudjonsson says, and are likely to agree with anything a police officer says simply to remove themselves from an immediately unpleasant situation. Though there is no evidence in the publicly released transcripts of the interviews that police did anything improper while questioning Bruce or any other suspect, the pressure was undoubtedly extreme.
There was no coercion," Sheriff Agnos says. There was no abusiveness. That has been discounted. It has now been downgraded from `abusiveness and coercion' to `pressure.' And I can tell you there was not the same amount of pressure put on these suspects as they put on the victims. Can you imagine the pressure on the nine victims as they lay on the floor crying and praying for their lives and being shot one by one in the back of the head? That's pressure."
And the sheriff and his investigators say they have other witnesses, witnesses who as yet have not agreed to testify, who say that at least some of the Tucson suspects were involved in the murders. And that not all the statements of the west Valley juveniles have been made public. And that while innocent people apparently confess to crimes more often than intuition would allow us to believe, guilty people also confess.
No one knows the whole story-from the transcripts of the interviews with the Tucson suspects, it is possible to believe that some of the Tucson men are guilty and some are innocent, that none of them were directly involved but that some of them have guilty knowledge, that all of them were involved or that none of them were involved. Agnos, while he says he's convinced of the Tucson suspects' guilt, also says he doubts anyone other than those who were there will ever know exactly what happened at Wat Promkunaram in the first hours of August 10, 1991.
The sheriff says he believes the confessions have to matter.
We have taken their admissions and set them aside, and said they don't mean anything," Agnos said. Well, they do mean something. If we don't ever pursue a criminal where there are no witnesses or victims left alive, we're essentially saying you can get away with murder. Just kill everybody."
part 3 of 3
BUILDING A BETTER MOUTHTRAP AFTER YEARS ... v1-08-92