The Homicide Files, Part 1
It can be said with certainty that two things happened in the 22 hours between Carlton Coleman's arrest and his arraignment last October.
One is that he was interrogated by homicide detectives. The other is that his health went from good to poor. When it was all over, he spent the next 28 days hospitalized for injuries of the abdomen, arms, shoulders, chest, calf, spine and back
Medical problems are not rare among those interrogated by the Philadelphia Police Department's 84-member homicide division, In fact, a four-month investigation by The Inquirer has found a pattern of beatings, threats of violence, intimidation, coercion and knowing disregard for constitutional rights in the interrogation of homicide suspects and witnesses.
The study shows that many homicide detectives, in beating or coercing suspects and later denying it under oath, have come to accept breaking the law as part of their job.
As a result of those practices, the Inquirer has found, there are cases in which murders have remained unsolved, killers have gone free and innocent men have been imprisoned.
From 1974 through this month, judges Common Pleas Court have been asked to rule in pretrial hearings on the legality of police investigations in 433 homicide cases. Those rulings require the judge to decide who is telling the truth — the police or the suspect. In most cases, the judge believes the police.
In 80 of those cases, however, judges have ruled that the police acted illegally during homicide interrogations. The judges found in many cases that police had used either physical or psychological coercion. In some cases, the victims’ injuries were documented by X-rays, medical records and photographs.
Extensive interviews with homicide detectives and prosecutors who work with detectives every day confirm these findings. The interviews - including some with detectives who frequently have been accused of beatings — make it clear that top officials in the police department know of and tolerate the coercive measures.
The illegal interrogations follow a pattern:
They are conducted by teams of detectives in tiny rooms at police headquarters — known as the Roundhouse — at Eighth and Race Streets. The suspect or witness is often hand-cuffed to a metal chair, which is bolted to the floor. Some of these sessions have lasted 24 hours.
Some of the techniques used in the beatings leave no severe marks. Those techniques include placing a telephone book on a suspect’s head and hammering it with a heavy object; beating his feet and ankles: twisting or kicking his testicles; and pummeling his back, ribs and kidneys.
Other techniques do leave marks. Testimony about interrogations that judges have ruled illegal has shown that suspects have been beaten with lead pipes, blackjacks, brass knuckles, handcuffs, chairs and table legs. One suspect was stabbed in the groin with a sword-like instrument.
The detectives make use of one-way mirrors through which the interrogation rooms can be observed. Suspects and witnesses have testified that they were forced to watch beatings through such windows and were told that they would receive the same treatment unless they cooperated.
“What we’re living in at the Roundhouse,”' a former homicide detective said, “is a return to the Middle Ages. All this nonsense about the ‘thin blue line between society and the underworld,’ it’s bull———. Police are breaking the law every day, and they know it.”
Why are detectives doing this?
The main reason, detectives say, is outrage — outrage at the heinousness of the crimes they investigate, and outrage at a court system that allows murderers to ‘'walk,” or go free.
“It’s a fight every day,”' one detective said. “The homicide detective must fight the lawyers, the judges, the Supreme Court — and he must fight crime.”
But there is also another reason: money.
To get a statement from a suspect, a detective often works around the clock — and that means overtime. Once he gets a statement, he becomes a court witness — and court time means more overtime.
City payroll records show that the average homicide detective got $7,575 in overtime pay last year. One, Michael Chitwood, more than doubled his base pay, earning a total of $36,293, which is higher than the salary of Police Commissioner Joseph F. O'Neill.
Do high police officials know about the crimes in the interrogation room?
They, like all citizens, have access to court records, including the 80 recent homicide cases in which interrogations have been ruled illegal. They also work extremely closely with the elite homicide division.
In one case, testimony by an assistant district attorney showed that a homicide investigation was under the direct supervision of Commissioner O’Neill and Chief Inspector Joseph Golden, who set up a temporary “command post” office at the Roundhouse.
In that case, a judge later concluded, a suspect named Larry Howard was beaten. Howard testified that he was hit with a lead pipe, punched with brass knuckles and handcuffs and grabbed by the testicles. Another suspect, Richard Atkins, testified that he was forced to watch Howard’s interrogation through a one-way mirror.
Within the police department, there is constant pressure to get suspects to talk. Detectives say that Chief Inspector Golden has a standing order to the Homicide Division: “Get a statement,”
At times, the emphasis on getting statements can produce odd results.
On Jan, 19, when a North Philadelphia shopkeeper named George Lewis was murdered during a holdup, investigators determined that he had been killed by a single bullet.
Homicide detectives questioned two suspects, and by the time they emerged from their respective interrogation rooms, each had allegedly admitted firing the shot. Their cases are pending.
So far this year judges have heard 31 formal allegations of illegal interrogations, and have ruled for the defendant 11 times.
One case that is expected to come up in 1977 is that of Carlton Coleman, the man who was hospitalized for 28 days after his interrogation. Coleman, 26, is charged with shooting an off-duty policeman. He allegedly signed a confession, but he is expected to argue that he was beaten and coerced.
Does the police department care that murder cases are lost because illegal “confessions” are thrown out?
As individuals, the police care very much. But their concern does not carry over into the department’s official gauge of its effectiveness — the rate at which murder cases are “cleared.” A “cleared” case is one in which someone is charged with the crime — but not necessarily convicted.
The department is proud that it has ‘‘cleared” nearly 87% of its cases in recent years. But 20% of the homicide defendants who went to court last year were acquitted or were freed because the district attorney’s office dropped the charges for lack of evidence.
An example of a murder that was “cleared,” but apparently not solved, is the well-known Santiago firebombing case. As The Inquirer reported in November, the police rounded up seven neighbors, beat the men, threatened the women and forced them to sign false statements implicating Robert (Reds) Wilkinson in five murders. He was convicted, but the verdict was overturned when another man, David McGinnis, confessed.
Why are homicide detectives not forced to obey the law?
No homicide detective has been prosecuted in recent years — if ever — for a crime committed during an interrogation. This apparent immunity can be explained in part by the detectives’ close working relationship with the district attorney’s office.
Prosecutors depend on the police for testimony and cooperation in presenting evidence. If the district attorney’s office were to press criminal charges against detectives, the cooperation could collapse.
In the 80 cases in which judges have ruled interrogations illegal, the record shows that the police do not discriminate: The victims have been white and black, guilty and innocent. Women, too, have been coerced and threatened, but The Inquirer has seen no testimony that women have been beaten in interrogations.
Judges, in hearing these cases, have taken extensive testimony and examined documentary evidence, including photographs, X-rays, and other medical records, before making formal findings of fact.
Based on these cases, here are several incidents from the Round-house interrogation rooms:
William Hoskins, 23, a black murder suspect, was handcuffed to a metal chair bolted to the floor. During an interrogation by homicide detectives Michael Chitwood, John Strohm, Daniel Rosenstein and Rosborough McMillan, Hoskins was stabbed in the groin with a sword-like instrument and blackjacked on his feet, ankles and legs until the blackjack broke in two.
Lawyers present on the scene that night — Nov. 5, 1975 — said Hoskins was carried out of the Roundhouse and driven by police to Philadelphia General Hospital, where he was carried in on a stretcher.
Medical records show that Hoskins could not stand up when he was admitted to the hospital’s emergency ward. Doctors wrote that Hoskins suffered severe injuries to his kidneys, that he was urinating blood and that the left side of his body, from his shoulders to his buttocks, was swollen and bruised. The prisoner, handcuffed to his hospital bed, was placed on intravenous feeding and remained at the hospital for five days.
Common Pleas Court Judge Samuel Smith ruled that the Hoskins interrogation was illegal. “There is no question he was beaten,” Judge Smith said in an interview. “This guy was hurt bad.”
Hoskins was later convicted of murder. The verdict is being appealed.
Richard Rozanski, 28, a white murder suspect, was kicked in the testicles and beaten on the back with a wooden chair by Detective Richard Strohm. He was punched on the head and face by Detective George Cassidy until he was ‘'numb,” Rozanski testified.
That same night—Dec. 22, 1975— Detective Strohm approached Rozanski’s brother-in-law, Joey Kedra, 22, who was in another interrogation room. According to court testimony, Strom pointed a gun at Kedra’s head and said: “I’m going to blow your motherf---ing brains out, Punch.”
Judge James R. Cavanaugh ruled that the 17-hour interrogation of Rozanski was illegal and that the defendant had been “subjected to physical and mental threats and coercion.”
Judge Cavanaugh made his ruling after reviewing photographs and hearing the testimony of Rozanski, homicide detectives and Dr. Daniel Jacobs, who examined Rozanski a day after his interrogation.
Last July, after spending six months in prison, Rozanski was acquitted by a jury in Common Pleas Court. The murder of Joseph Lucano Jr. remains unsolved.
Mary Kirkman, a 28-year-old black housewife and mother of six, was held for 24 hours and denied the right to consult her lawyer. As a result, the statements she gave could not be used as evidence.
Mrs. Kirkman was arrested at 8:50 a.m. on Jan. 3, 1974, as a suspect in the murder of Stanley Tiller. According to a ruling by Judge Francis A. Biunno, she refused to give a statement and asked to see a lawyer.
Detective Lawrence Grace, however, proceeded to question her without a lawyer present. Two and a half hours later, she signed a statement denying any involvement in the shooting of Tiller.
Two hours after that, attorney Richard A. McDaniel arrived at the Roundhouse to represent her. But for the next 20 minutes, the judge found, detectives Grace and Henry Konieczny continued the interrogation while McDaniel was kept outside.
At the end of this period, Mrs. Kirkman signed a statement saying that Tiller had pulled a gun from his pocket and “I pushed him and the gun went off.”
Immediately after the statement was signed, McDaniel met with Mrs. Kirkman and instructed her to remain silent. He also told Detective Grace not to interrogate his client further.
After the lawyer left, however, Mrs. Kirkman was interrogated throughout the afternoon and held for another 19 hours. During that time, she gave three more statements, each more damaging to her legal position than the last.
That afternoon, according to Judge Biunno’s ruling, Mrs. Kirkman was told by Detective Grace: “Don’t pay any attention to McDaniel. All he wants is his fee. I’m here to help you.”
Judge Biunno ruled that the interrogation was illegal, that Mrs. Kirkman’s statements were the “product of psychological coercion” and that police had “cajoled” and “misled” her.
In a recent interview, Mrs. Kirkman said her 24 hours in the Roundhouse had left her ‘‘nervous and sick.” She said detectives kept telling her: “Why don’t you say you did it so we can go home already? We’re getting tired.”
“The impression they gave me,” Mrs. Kirkman said, ‘'was that if I told them what they wanted to hear, I’d be out of there in no time.”
On Aug. 14, 1974, Mrs. Kirkman was acquitted in a 45-minute trial by Common Pleas Court Judge Eugene Gelfand. No one has ever been convicted for the Tiller murder.
Ronald Hanley, 37, a white suspect in the Santiago firebombing case, testified that he was “systematically beaten” by four homicide detectives: John Ellis, Sheldon Zucker, James Carty and a man he identified only as “George.”
Hanley said he was struck in the ribs and chest “at least 40 or 50 times” before signing a confession. Medical records show that a rib was broken.
Common Pleas Court Judge Theodore B. Smith Jr. ruled that Hanley’s interrogation was illegal. He wrote: “Hanley was subjected to gross physical abuse, coercion and violence at the hands of several police officers.
“Such violence, coercion and abuse consisted of the sticking of a finger in his left eye and heavy blows to his face, head and torso, heavy enough to cause his nose to bleed, his left lung to suffer a bruise discernible by X-ray 19 days later, Oct. 24, 1975, and control of his bowels to be lost during part of the time he was in police custody.”
When Hanley’s confession was thrown out by Judge Smith, the district attorney’s office decided that there was not enough evidence to convict him, and Hanley went free.
It took federal authorities to get a conviction. Two months ago, Hanley was found guilty of firebombing charges in U. S. District Court.
Although 18 months have passed since five persons were burned to death in the firebombing, the efforts of the city police and the district attorney’s office have not produced a conviction that has held up.
Louis Roach, 20, a black suspect in the murder of a Temple University student, was held at the Roundhouse for 19 hours in March 1972.
James Davis, 20, another suspect in the case, testified that he was taken to a small room in the Roundhouse by Detective David L. Porter.
There Davis testified he saw Roach handcuffed to a metal chair, his face swollen and blood streaming from his nose and mouth.
“You see that in there?” Davis quoted Porter as saying. “You want to be like he is? You don’t cooperate, that is how you going to be.”
Davis also testified that Porter punched him in the face and chest. He was released without being charged.
Judge Robert A. Latrone ruled that the interrogation was illegal. In that case, the judge said Roach was “the hapless victim of impermissible psychological coercion ... by five detectives with interrogative expertise.”
Roach later pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the stabbing death of Carey Dillinger.
Larry Howard, 28, a black suspect in the shooting of two policemen, was kicked, beaten with a lead pipe and punched with handcuffs and brass knuckles during an interrogation ruled illegal by Judge Lisa A. Richette.
Testimony by an assistant district attorney, Arthur R. Shuman Jr., showed that the investigation was under the direct supervision of Police Commissioner O’Neill and Chief Inspector Golden, who were operating at the “command post” in the Roundhouse. (The policemen who were shot did not die, but the case was tréated as a homicide because they were in critical condition at the time of the interrogation.)
At one point in Howard’s interrogation, Richard Atkins, 23, a black college student who was also a suspect, was forced to watch through four one-way mirrors.
At that time, Detective Rosborough McMillan, who is 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighs 325 pounds, was hammering with brass knuckles at the back of Howard's head, according to testimony. Detective Gerald Ross, with handcuffs around his fists, and Detective James Richardson were beating Howard's arms, chest, back and legs.
Richardson, according to the testimony, was bending back Howard's fingers, and then suddenly grabbed Howard in the groin and pulled his testicles.
Atkins testified that Howard began “like twitching in pain, I could hear him hollering. He was twisting, he was yelling . . . and I saw his arm jerking.” (Howard later testified: “He tried to mutilate me.”)
Atkins said a policeman turned to him and said: “You see the beating he is getting?”
“Yes,” Atkins replied.
“Well, you can’t stand up to that beating, so you better cooperate with the officers,” the policeman said, according to Atkins. (Atkins signed a statement in which he allegedly admitted throwing a gun out of the house where the policemen were shot, but he was Iater acquitted of all changes.)
At this point, Howard's beating was not over.
He was taken from the interrogation room to the basement, where he was beaten again, according to the judge’s ruling.
“I just lost track of time,” Howard testified, “Next thing I know they had me in the basement in the back room. There is a locker there, and they had me in the corner kicking me... (They) beat me with pipes down there.”
After 20 hours of questioning and beatings, Howard had signed a “confession” and was left alone, buckled over in pain on a metal chair. It was in that condition — at 4:45 p.m. on April 27, 1973 — that his attorney, Jack Myers, the former chief of homicide for the district attorney’s office, found him. Myers later recounted the following exchange:
"What the hell did you do to this man?" Myers yelled at a group of detectives gathered together about 10 feet from the open door.
“Well, he fell down some steps,” one detective said.
“‘I want somebody to come back in here and hear what this man has to say,” Myers shouted. “If anything happens to this man -— if he dies — you’re going to be held accountable.”
Alarmed at his client’s condition, Myers had Howard examined by Dr. Henry J. Dudnick, a police surgeon. The examination in the interrogation room lasted one minute and 35 seconds, according to uncontradicted testimony. Dr. Dudnick found nothing wrong.
Howard was taken to Metropolitan Hospital, however, and doctors there found multiple contusions and abrasions of the chest and a “tenderness” in the left rib cage. When Howard reached the detention center, he spent two days recovering in the medical treatment area.
In court, the police officers involved gave conflicting testimony about how Howard had sustained his injuries. They did agree, however, on one thing: They all said they had not beaten him.
Upon hearing the contradictory testimony, Judge Richette took an unusual step. She interrupted the proceedings and went with Myers, Howard and the prosecutor to the Roundhouse to determine whether Howard had been telling the truth about being beaten in the basement, an area where prisoners are not routinely taken.
Howard led her to a spot that matched the place he had described in testimony “with a certainty that was almost frightening,” the judge later wrote.
After hearing testimony and seeing medical records and photographs, the judge threw out Howard’s statement, saying she did not believe Dr. Dudnick and the policemen. Still later, she had Howard transferred to a prison outside the city after hearing testimony that he was beaten again while being transported to and from his trial. Ultimately he was convicted of the two shootings.
Joseph Bilhardt, 36, a white suspect, was struck during an interrogation by Detectives John Stohm, Philip Formicola and James Vales, according to a ruling on March 31 by Common Pleas Court Judge Richard B. Klein.
Bilhardt, arrested last Sept. 19 for the murder of his wife, testified that Strohm refused his request to call an attorney and then beat him in the ribs, lower chest and back. At one point, Bilhardt testified, he was refused permission to use the lavatory and urinated in his pants because of the blows to his kidneys.
Medical records of Bilhard’s physical condition when he arrived at the Philadelphia detention center could not be found by the Commonwealth at the time of a pretrial hearing.
Even though the beating left no visible bruises, Judge Klein refused to believe the testimony of Detective Strohm, who said the suspect had not been beaten or threatened in any way.
Bilhardt is awaiting trial.
Marion Dockery, 49, a black, signed a “confession” to the murder of his wife, Margaret.
Dockery can neither read nor write.
He was first arrested shortly after the murder on Aug. 9, 1976. He was questioned extensively then but was released.
Five months later, in January, he was arrested again by Detectives Chitwood and John Strohm.
Dockery testified that he had signed papers after being told by detectives that he was signing forms authorizing the police to give him a polygraph test.
Judge George J. Ivins ruled that Dockery had been arrested illegally because the police had no more information in January than when he was arrested five months earlier. Ivins ruled that the interrogation was illegal, and the “confession” was thrown out,
Dockery, who has been in prison since January, is awaiting trial.
Hadley Nelson, 17, was arrested on Sept. 11, 197S, for the rape, robbery and murder of Ellizabeth Grobben, 71. Judge Juanita Kidd Stout ruled that Nelson’s interrogation had been illegal and threw out his confession, Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Brodkin then addressed the court, saying: “There is no other evidence at this time . . . therefore, your honor, the Commonwealth reluctantly asks the court to grant its motion to nol pros (drop the charges).”
No one was ever convicted of the Grobben killing.
James Howell, 18, was arrested for the rape, robbery and murder of Henrietta Tucker on Dec. 3, 1971. Common Pleas Court Judge Thomas M. Reed ruled that Howell was subjected to “undue psychological duress” during a 20-hour interrogation. When the judge threw out Howell’s confession, the district attorney dropped the charges. No one was ever convicted of the Tucker killing.
Michael Everett, 14, a ninth-grade student with no criminal record, was arrested in April 1976 for the murder of Robert Robinson. Common Pleas Court Judge Alex Bonavitacola ruled that Everett’s interrogation was illegal, and Everett was acquitted. No one was ever convicted of the Robinson murder.
James Churchill, 24, was pickeed up on June 2, 1973, as possible witness in the murder of his friend Reginald Adams. Judge Ivins found that Churchill was “forced to stay in an interrogation room over a period of approximately 27 hours during which eight interrogations were held.” During that time, Chorchill allegedly confessed to the crime.
Judge Ivins threw out Churchill's confession. The district attorney, who had no other evidence, dropped the charges.
Gregory Culler, 14, a Meck, was arrested on Feb. 9, 19%, for the murder of Gerald Clarke. In August, Judge Armand Della Porta ruled that Culler’s interrogation had been illegal and threw out his confession. Assistant District Attorney Brodria dropped the charges and said in court: “The Commonwealth has no evidence with which to proceed at this time.”
No one was ever convicted of the Clarke killing.
John Wardlow, a 15-year-old sophomore at Olney High School, was arrested on June 9, 1973, for the murder of another youth, Anthony Hoke. On June 10, Wardlow “confessed.”
Later, however, it was shown in court that be had been arrested solely on the basis of a tip that, in being transcribed by the homicide division, was altered to falsely incriminate Wardlow,
The police were given the tip in an interview with Harold Hunter Jr., a 14-year-old neighbor of Wardlow. Hunter said he had seen Wardlow and his friend, Ronald James, 17, about a block from the murder scene half an hour before the shooting.
But in their written version of the interview, police recorded that Horter told them that Wardlow had been carrying a gun.
Roth Hunter and his father, who was at the Roundhouse for his son's interrogation, testified later that Hunter had never said anything about Wardlow carrying a gun. The inclusion of a gun, Hunter said, was a fabrication.
Questions were also voiced about the interrogation of James.
When James went to the Roundhouse for interrogation, he was accompanied by his father, William James, a veteran Philadelphia policeman whose home in West Oak Lane is decorated with citations and other honors for valor in the line of duty
“Romie, you’re going to be charged with murder,” a detective said, according to the youth’s account.
“| thought it was a dream,” James said in a recent interview. “Then I started crying. My father wouldn’t leave me by myself because he knew their tactics.”
Wardlow's parents, John and Mary, also came to the Roundhouse that night. But they were not allowed to see their son during the 7.5 hours of his interrogation Detectives Alan Twyman and Arthur Verbrugghe.
Wardlow quoted Detective Twyman as saying: “All right, you tell me how you capped (killed) that guy. You’re going to give us a statement.”
Wardlow said that detectives, whom he could not identify by name, hit him with a blackjack, poked him forcefully in the chest and punched him in the head.
At one point, Wardlow said, he was told by police that James, his neighborhood friend, had named him as the killer. (James said in a recent interview that he told police nothing of the sort.)
Near the end of the interrogation Wardow said he was still insisting that he had been at home with his family at the time Hoke was shot.
Finally, he said, a detective told him: “All right, you sign these papers to verify that you’ve been questioned, and you can go home.”
“Welkome to a murder one (first-degree murder) charge,” said the detective, according to Wardlow.
The papers were a “confession.” In a recent interview, Wardlow said that the statement had been written entirely by his interrogators and that he had not read it before signing. At that time, he said he was “frightened enough to do anything police asked.”
On Nov. 27, 1973 — more than six months after his arrest — Judge Ivins threw out Wardloe’s “confession” and ruled that his interrogation had been illegal.
And six months after that, Wardiow, who had spent a month in prison and incurred hundreds of dollars in legal expenses, was acquitted in a trial that lasted only half an hour because there was no evidence.
In the area of West Oak Lane where Anthony Hoke was murdered, the verdict was not a surprise The neighbors generally believed that Wardlow was not the murderer. They had heard accounts indicating who was — another youth well known in the area
But police never reopened the investigation. For the homicide division, the killing of Anthony Hoke was ‘cleared’ the morning John Wardlow was booked for mwrder
The official reply
Police Commissioner Joseph F. O’Neill, informed of The Inquirer’s conclusion that there is a pattern of illegal interrogations by the homicide division, responded in writing: “As police commissioner, I emphatically and categorically deny this allegation.”
O’Neill refused to be interviewed. So did Mayor Frank L. Rizzo, District Attorney Emmett Fitzpatrick and Chief Inspector Joseph Golden.
O'Neill would not allow the 31 policemen mentioned in this series to be interviewed. The Inquirer, however, did interview a number of the officers with the agreement that they would not be quoted by name. All 31 were asked for interviews by certified mail
The only rights you get...are right fists'
Anthony Prado, a murder suspect who turned out to be innocent, remembers what a detective said when Prado asked about his constitutional rights.
“Rights?” a detective replied “You’ve been watching too much *Kojak.' This is murder we’re talking about.”
Many have shared Prado’s experience. Again and again, suspects and witnesses who have been interrogated by homicide detectives have later reported that their rights — especially
the constitutional rights to remain silent and to consult a lawyer — were treated as a joke
Richard Rozanski, who a judge found was beaten and illegally interrogated, said a detective told him “The only rights you get down here are right fists.”
In another case, Judge Rodert A. Latrose became incredulous upon hearing a homicide detective, Chester Koscinsky, testify that he had interrogated 600 suspects in three years and that not not one had asked to see a lawyer.
The judge interrupted to ask the detective: “You never have the defendant answer in response to the Miranda warnings that he desired to have a lawyer. . .? You never had that happen?”
“Not that I can recall, no sir,” the detective replied.
Even when suspects do have lawyers, and the lawyers advise them to remain silent, the interrogations sometimes go on.
In one instance, Frank Lowery, 22, a murder suspect, surrendered voluntarily police with his attorney, Dennis B. Haggerty, present. Haggerty testified that he told Detective John Ellis that Lowery was not to be interrogated. Ellis said he would not interrogate Lowery, and he did not.
But Detective Richard Strohm did.
Ellis later testified that he had indeed said he would not question Lowery. He added, however, that he had never made any promises on behalf of other detectives
Under cross examination about the Lowery interrogation, Strohm testified that Haggerty “doesn’t advise me to do anything. He may advise his client of his constitutional rights, but he doesn’t advise me.”
Longtime criminal lawyer. Louis Lipschitz supplies some of his clients with a two-page letter to the police in case they are arrested. It says:
"I am specifically advising you that you do not interrogate him (the client) . . expose him to threats of any kind or any form of psychological, mental, moral or physical coercion, "
“Please do not expose him to any rides in your elevator or any lie detectors which you may suggest will induce him to ‘have a change of heart’ or ‘unburden himself or ‘make peace with his Maker’ . . . or subject him to any other form of persuasion, inducement, wile, seduction or suggestion...
“I am aware of the possibility that I have not mentioned all of the things for your consideration which in the past have been asserted through the ingenuity of pseudo-legal minds. I do
feel that the above thoughts serve to remind you of those I have forgotten.”
Rizzo’s defense: Traditional view
Mayor Frank L. Rizto refused to be interviewed for The Inquirer's series on homicide investigations
However, on March 17, when the State Supreme Court handed down a new ruling requiring that all suspects be arraigned within six hours of their arrest, Rizzo, in a telephone interview with The Inquirer, made these comments that touch on some of the issues in the series:
“It seems to me we have to consider the entire community. What are we talking about here? Murder. It’s not like ‘Kojak, when vou just look out the window and solve a crime. It has to be done with detective work. A lot of painstaking hours, walking the streets, talking to witnesses, checking records.
Take the case of a variety store owner being shot. It's bad enough there's an innocent victim, bot then, tell me, in a city of 2 million people, how are you going to come up with
the killer? You hope he leaves evidence behind — a gun, a bullet we can run down — but it’s not that easy
“Sometimes we come up with a guy. So we got to talk to him. He comes in without a lawyer. There has to be a dialogue between criminals and police, The man talks to us and he tells us he had nothing to do with it. So we let him go and track down his alibis,
“Do we ever use the rubber hose (to beat people)? I’ve never seen it. We would not permit it to ever happen in Philadelphia. , ,
“So we go out and investigate his alibi. Then the man comes back with a lawyer. It used to be you could use any statement (police obtained from a defendant), before they had Miranda and Escobedo (two U.S, Supreme Court rulings requiring that police inform citizens of their rights to remain silent and to consult with a lawyer). But now the courts are tying you down, more. and more
“The police aren’t going to suffer. It’s the people who are going to suffer. In the violence that’s sweeping through the nation, this court ruling will only make it more difficult to protect a free society...
“I’m as concerned with the nights of the criminal as I am about anything else. But the scales of justice have to consider the innocent victim You have to weigh the difference between a lawful society and an unlawful society
“The scales are shifting too much to the rights of the criminal, It’s unfair to the law-abiding citizen. . .
“You tell me they (police) bring in the wrong people and question them? Unfortunately, that happens, But unfortunately, these are the times we live in.”