Longform

THE ULTIMATE TRUE-OR-FALSE TEST

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Bruce went to jail anyway. And he stayed there for more than 70 days, as doubts surfaced about the reliability of his confession and those of the three other Tucson men jailed in connection with the crime. Bruce's confession is particularly troubling because, unlike the statements made by the three other Tucson suspects-who sought to minimize their participation in the crimeÏBruce told police he pulled the trigger that killed the victims.

That revelation obviously was troubling. But even more disturbing is that Bruce apparently lied about the weapon he supposedly used.

Bruce said he used his own rifle to commit the temple murders, but ballistics tests eventually excluded his weapon as the murder device. Another, similar rifle was later linked to the slayings.

After the similar rifle was turned over to detectives by a 16-year-old Avondale Agua Fria High School student named Rolando Caratachea, west Valley teenagers Johnathan Doody and Alex Garcia, who were friends of Caratachea's, were arrested in connection with the murders. They also made statements to police implicating themselves. But nowhere in those statements did the juveniles implicate the Tucson men.

If it is reasonable to wonder how four innocent people could have all come to confess to a mass murder they did not commit, isn't it also reasonable to wonder why a suspect would admit to shooting nine people in the back of the head and then lie about the rifle?

The sheriff and his men insist the whole story has not come out about the Tucson men's involvement in the murders.

I believe we have sufficient information to go to trial," Agnos says. Three grand juries and a Superior Court judge said there is probable cause to believe these individuals participated in this crime and they should be held for trial. It never got to trial. It never got to a suppression hearing to determine whether or not the admissions, the statements they made, would be admissible in court."

Agnos contends there was no need to link the Tucson men with the two juveniles because the case against the Tucson men was strong on its own. And he says the transcripts and tapes of the Tucson men's statements prove there was no coercion. Everybody thought, `Well, these confessions would be no good,'" Agnos says. We now see that there was no coercion. ... They were treated respectfully, they were asked appropriate questions and they made statements regarding their participation in this crime. That is the link-they said they were there.

All of the transcripts of the juveniles have not been released. Those were only the preliminary ones in order to get a search warrant to go recover some items of evidence. Their stories changed, as did the four from Tucson. You cannot make judgments off the initial statements."

Like Bruce, the three other Tucson suspects confessed, but later denied they were involved and claimed their confessions had been coerced."

It would be more unusual, investigators say, if they did not recant.
During his own press conference, Leo Bruce could not satisfactorily answer why he confessed. In the klieg blast of public scrutiny, his protestations about the gas chamber and detectives in his face" seemed weak. He said he was naive, that he thought he could tell the investigators the truth and that the truth would set him free, that he didn't think he needed a lawyer because, after all, he wasn't (sob) guilty.

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THE ULTIMATE TRUE-OR-FALSE TEST YOU WOUL... v1-08-92

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Philip Martin