Questioning Police Officer Tactics in Philadelphia Murder Cases
Within the last few years, there have been several murder Philadelphia criminal cases in which the accused individuals were acquitted of the crimes. In these cases, the individuals spent months, if not years in jail, waiting for justice. There is a saying, often attributed to William Penn, who ironically, founded Pennsylvania: “Justice delayed is justice denied.” This is certainly true in these recent cases.
Case 1: Philadelphia Man Gives False Confession, Spends 4 Years in Jail Before Acquittal
Late last year, a Philadelphia area man was acquitted of two murders after spending 4 years in jail (see Commonwealth v. Pinkney, Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia). He was only 20 years old at the time of his arrest and had no prior record. His life was forever altered by his case; he lost his job as a baggage handler at the Philadelphia airport. So how did this happen?
He confessed to a crime he didn’t commit, and the jury believed that his confession was bogus. So the next question is, how did he confess to a crime he didn’t actually commit? He was investigated and interrogated by two Philadelphia homicide detectives, the same two detectives who worked up 2 other murder cases which resulted in acquittals.
Philadelphia Police Officer Tactics in Murder Cases
The same 2 police detectives who investigated the Pinkney case worked up another homicide case a few years prior. In that case, a young Philadelphia woman was charged with murdering her roommate, and she confessed to the crime, after 41 hours in custody. Eventually a Philadelphia judge threw the confession out, finding that it was the product of psychological coercion. In addition, the same judge found the police detective’s testimony incredible; the judge simply did not believe the detective’s testimony.
The same detectives worked up another murder case in 2009 (Commonwealth v. Speakes). That case involved another young Philadelphia man who was accused of murdering someone on the same block. There were at least 2 eyewitnesses who identified Speakes as the shooter; the identifications were obtained by the same 2 detectives. However, there was independent video footage which placed Speakes on the other side of town at the time of the murder. The criminal case proceeded to trial, while Speakes waited in for 2 years. He was found not guilty.
These cases clearly show that police can employ investigation tactics which result in the prosecution of innocent people, and when innocent people spend time in jail waiting for justice, it is certainly true that they’ve been denied justice.
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