Cops can’t threaten black suspects with all-white juries to get confession, IN court rules
An Indiana detective went too far when he urged a suspect to confess to murder because he was black and would not likely receive a fair trial, the state’s high court ruled.
The Indiana Supreme Court ruled unanimously Tuesday that a Gary detective violated the suspect’s rights by making the warning near the end of a three-hour interrogation.
“Intentionally misleading a suspect as to his constitutionally guaranteed rights to a fair trial and an impartial jury, because of his race, sits squarely on the wrong side” of the law, the court ruled.
Attorneys for McLynnerd Bond Jr., who is charged with murder in a 2007 Lake County slaying, had asked a trial judge to suppress the confession.
Bond had denied involvement in the fatal shooting of Kadmiel Mahone until Detective Cpl. Edward Gonzalez suggested he would not face an impartial jury and would face lesser charges if he confessed.
“Don’t let twelve people who are from Schererville, Crown Point — white people, Hispanic people, other people that aren’t from Gary, from your part of the hood — judge you,” the officer said, according to the court order.
“Because they’re not gonna put people on there who are from your neck of the woods,” the detective added. “You know that. They’re not gonna be the ones to decide what happens to you. You know that. I know that. Everybody knows that.”
The judge denied the defense request to throw out the confession, and the decision was upheld by the Indiana Court of Appeals.
But the state’s high court overturned the lower court rulings and ruled the detective’s action violated Bond’s right to equal access to justice.
Bond’s trial has been placed on hold during the appeals process.
The court noted that police are given wide latitude in conducting interrogations, but they said they must preserve state and federal constitutional protections.
The ruling also noted that many Americans – particularly blacks – do not trust the judicial system, and the court ruled that the detective had intentionally exploited this fear to compel a confession.
“This was an intentional misrepresentation of rights ensconced in the very fabric of our nation’s justice system — the rights to a fair trial and an impartial jury, and the right not to be judged by or for the color of your skin — carried out as leverage to convince a suspect in a criminal case that his only recourse was to forego his claim of innocence and confess,” the court ruled.