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Tricks are for Cops

Police used deliberate deception in getting alleged rape victim to recant.

1) The section of Det. Thomas Woodmansee's police report that deals with Patty's confession.
2) Attorney Hal Harlowe's brief in support of his motion to suppress.
3) An attached statement from Patty's ophthalmologist.
4) Judge Aulik's ruling.

4) Judge Aulik's ruling.
STATE OF WISCONSIN

CIRCUIT COURT

DANE COUNTY

BRANCH 2
CASE NO. 98CM0529
STATE OF WISCONSIN, Plaintiff,

vs.PATRICIA S. [REDACTED], Defendant.
DECISION AND ORDER
The above captioned defendant has moved the Court to suppress all statements made by the defendant to law enforcement officers during interrogation of the defendant on Oct. 2, 1997 and all evidence derived therefrom on the grounds the statements were obtained in violation of defendant's 4,5,6 and 14 amendment rights. The state challenged the motion for lack of specificity and, although the challenge had merit, the Court allowed the hearing to proceed.
This Court treats the motion as a challenge to the voluntariness of the statements of the defendant which, if allowed to stand, amount to a virtual confession to a charge of obstructing an officer. The facts are not in dispute. On 9/8/97 the defendant reported to police that she had been sexually assaulted on 9/4/97 in her bedroom by an intruder whom she identified as one [redacted]. The defendant had communication with the police on 3 occasions following the alleged assault, in each instance maintaining the assault had indeed occurred.
On October 2, 1997 Detective Tom Woodmansee telephoned the defendant and asked her to come down to the Madison Detective Bureau telling her they may want more tests. The defendant arrived at approximately 6:00 p.m., although it was not established how she got there. She was placed in an interrogation room described as a room 10 x 10. The door was closed and the defendant was offered coffee. Detective Woodmansee told the defendant she was not under arrest, that he did not intend to arrest her and that she was free to leave at any time. Detective Draeger was the only other person in the room.
A portion of Detective Woodmansee's report was received in evidence as Exhibit 1 and its content is undisputed except defendant's counsel contends there are relevant omissions. At the initiation of the interrogation Detective Woodmansee told the defendant he had completed his investigation and told the defendant "I know who did this", to which the defendant responded "but no proof". The detective then told the defendant he believed she had made a false accusation and that she lied about the sexual assault and that there was no sexual assault. Initially the defendant said "I'm not changing my story". The detective told the defendant he had put a great deal of time in this case, to the neglect of other cases, to which the defendant responded "I know, I know it was for nothing". The defendant then asked for a lie detector test or hypnosis, to which Detective Draeger responded she could hire her own examiner but the police didn't need one because they know she was lying.
Detective Woodmansee told the defendant there were numerous inconsistencies in her account of the incident, including her claim not to be able to see the intruder and that he did not believe her vision was as impaired as she had originally indicated, that her vision did not appear to him to be noticeably bad, to which she responded "I don't think it is that bad".

The balance of the relevant portions of the report are attached hereto and incorporated by reference commencing with page 44 thereof, which sets forth what the police contended were inconsistencies in defendant's account of the offense.
Defendant argues that defendant's confession was not voluntary because it was procured by coercive means and was the product of improper pressures by police.
Before analyzing the evidence and facts surrounding the issue before the Court, an analysis of the applicable law is appropriate.
The issue is whether the police, on Oct. 2, 1997, in the course of procuring a confession from the defendant that she had made up the accusation that she had been sexually assaulted, engaged in improper or coercive conduct. The burden of proof on a Motion to Suppress is upon the State to show by a preponderance of the evidence, State v. Agnello.
The ultimate test is whether a confession was the voluntary product of free unconstrained will and not coerced or the product of improper police pressure, Lynumm v. Ill. 372U5 528.
As stated in State v. Clappes, the line between coercion and voluntariness is hard to draw, so we must use a sense of fairness and justice to make a finding applying the "totality of the circumstances", Phillips V. State 29W 2d 521.
The focus of the inquiry is whether there was actual coercion or improper police practices in connection with procuring the confession of the defendant, State v Clappes 136W 2d 222. Examples of improperly coercive police tactics include: questioning a defendant for excessively long periods of time without breaks for food or rest; threatening a defendant with physical violence or otherwise; making promises in exchange for the defendant's cooperation; engaging relays of interrogators to question a defendant relentlessly; or conducting questioning so as to control and coerce the mind of the defendant.
The defendant cites the police report above referenced to support her argument stating that the report contains numerous examples of actual coercion and "improper policies Counsel argue that Detective Woodmansee and Draeger conducted questioning of defendant "so as to control and coerce her mind". Counsel sets forth on page 3 & 4 of his brief quotes that he relies upon to support his position. He commences with a quote of Detective Woodmansee, "he believed she had made a false allegation and that she had lied about the incident and there was no sexual assault or suspect". Defendant began to breath extremely heavy. Defense counsel asks the Court to apply common sense. How else could Woodmansee have gotten to the exact reason defendant was being questioned, to extract the truth, other than to outright accuse her of lying.
To contend a direct accusation is somehow improper or coercive defies common sense. It would be surprising if the defendant did not show emotion when accused of a lie she ultimately admitted to committing. It is significant to note, as asked by the Court, if the defendant ever, after admitting the fact she lied, never again asserted she had been sexually assaulted, but she did say, as pointed out by defendant's attorney, that she believed someone was in her room that night.
Attorney Harlowe makes a big issue of the status of the defendant's physical disability, to wit, her eyesight. The Court is being asked to conclude that the detective's opinion of the degree to impairment of vision of the defendant was improper and coercive. The Court is asked to imagine the "extraordinary fear and disorientation of a blind person, who had no previous police contact, being placed in an interrogation room and confronted by accusing officers who told her that they know she had lied and that she was, in fact, not blind". In evaluating that exact scenario, the common sense conclusion begs the question, how else could a person investigating the commission of a crime approach a suspect, other than in an accusatory setting.
It is not accurate to assert the defendant had no previous police contacts. The record is undisputed that the defendant had 15-17 previous police contacts and, in the instant case, had 3 previous police contacts, including a 3- 3 1/2 hour interview on 9/9/97.
In evaluating the effect of the statement of the officer expressing his opinion that defendant's eyesight was not as poor as she put on, we look to the defendant's reaction which was undisputedly "I don't think it is that bad".
Attorney Harlowe would have the Court conclude that, because the defendant suffered from a physical disability, she should not be subject to questioning about a very serious accusation she has made against another person. To so find would virtually eliminate investigations of crimes where a victim or suspect were somehow impaired. We have to weigh the circumstances in each case. In the instant case, the defendant had 3 prior contacts in this case with the same detective, she showed up at the police department by herself and, after very little colloquy, admitted she lied about a very serious accusation, acknowledged her impairment was not as bad as she originally portrayed it, and left of her free will.
Counsel argues that the "rouse" employed by Detective Woodmansee about the lack of prints on the condom was improper. Making up stories to induce suspects to confess is not improper conduct, by well settled law culminating in the case of State v. Albrecht 184W 2d 287. Irrespective of the status of the law on the subject, the "rouse" employed by Woodmansee was but one of many disclosures made to the defendant as to evidence and facts that created the many inconsistencies in her original accusation of sexual assault.
In summary, this Court concludes as follows:
That the statements made by the defendant to the police on Oct. 2, 1997 were voluntary and not the result of any coerciveness or any improper police tactics.
The accusation and the admission by the defendant that she had lied occurred almost at the inception of the interview after the defendant had come to the police department voluntarily and after the defendant was advised she wasn't under arrest and was free to leave at any time. Many inconsistencies in defendant's story were pointed out to her, which included reference to the degree of her eyesight impairment. The only evidence of the effect of the opinion of the detective as to her disability was the defendant's statement that "she didn't think it was that bad". The response of the police to her request for a lie detector test or hypnotism was certainly appropriate and in line with procedure, and their advice that she could obtain either on her own volition was accurate.
The "rouse" about the lack of prints on the condom is not, by law, improper and was but one small item when analyzing all of the other evidence and inconsistencies relayed to the defendant about her accusation. The defendant was no stranger to the "system" and certainly no stranger to these detectives who had spent hours previously with the defendant. It is significant that, although the defendant vacillated over whether someone was in her room the night in question after admitting she made up the sexual assault scenario and that she consistently lied to the police, she never again claimed she was sexually assaulted. In passing, reference was made to defendant's use of Prozac, which the defendant acknowledged did not affect her thought process.
In the course of the interview on Oct. 2, the defendant acknowledged several times she lied every time she talked to the police. This was not an instance of one admission but of consistent and persistent admissions that she had made up the story that she was sexually assaulted.
Incorporating all of the above finding and conclusion, the State has met its burden of proof and the defendant's motion is dismissed.
Date: [7-14-98]

Circuit Court, Branch 2
BY THE COURT
[signed]

Jack Aulik, Reserve Judge

for Circuit Court, Branch 2
cc: DDA Jill Karofsky

Attorney Hal Harlowe
[End of document.]

1) The section of Det. Thomas Woodmansee's police report that deals with Patty's confession.
2) Attorney Hal Harlowe's brief in support of his motion to suppress.
3) An attached statement from Patty's ophthalmologist.

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