When some people hear the term “false confession,” they wonder why anyone would ever confess to something falsely. This is even more the case when a criminal charge is being alleged against someone. Some persons have a hard time accepting that another person, who has been charged with a crime, would falsely admit to the crime they are charged with. “Why wouldn’t you just tell the truth if you did not commit the crime?” It’s a fair question, but it fails to recognize the legitimacy of the reality that is: false confessions happen more often than some people think.
Professor Steve Drizin is an internationally known expert on false confessions and submitted a report on Tyra’s case. In this report, Prof. Drizin considered the vast amounts of materials available from Tyra’s case. He concludes “the overwhelming weight of testimony and evidence points to the fact that Tyra played a peripheral role in the events that led to the death of Michelle Lai.” He agrees that Tyra did do some things wrong that evening, like most people would. However, AND THIS IS THE KEY, he adds that Tyra “has been punished severely” for being present during the events. The problem with Tyra’s case is just how severely she was punished for her being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
With regard to her confession, Prof. Drizin notes “her reason for confessing – to receive the same benefit that [her friend] Rebecca Stidham received (to go home) – is perhaps the most common reason why young people give unreliable confessions. The final videotaped confession is inconsistent with the other evidence and testimony in the case and is uncorroborated. It does not fit the facts of the crime as described by both the participants in the crime or the victims of the crime.”
Sadly, the Michelle Lai tragedy occurred prior to the onset of fully video-taped interrogations. Since then, progress has been made. Seventeen states and D.C. now require the recording of interrogations by statute. One example of how recorded interrogations help hold the criminal justice system accountable can be seen in this article, where the statistic above is found and a exemplary case is described – Steve Drizin Article on HuffPost.com.
All this to say, Tyra’s case is a prime example of why recording interrogations should be the status quo across the United States. Although it is not yet, there are those who continue to advocate for its implementation.
We hope that you will consider, if you haven’t already, signing the petition in support of Tyra’s release, for she has already spent far too long in prison for crimes that she was wrongfully convicted of. (https://www.change.org/justicefortyra) Also, please consider sharing Tyra’s story, which can be found on this website, with someone you know who has yet to hear of Tyra’s innocence. Tyra has always been and will be straightforward with what she did do that night Michelle Lai was tragically killed, but Tyra was not guilty of aggravated murder or aggravated robbery.
Link to Steve Drizin’s expert report – https://justice4tyra.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/drizin.pdf
Credit for photo – http://www.all-about-forensic-psychology.com/false-confessions.html