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Confession, insanity, denial and the Chucky Brown saga

BY JASON McKAY

Sunday, January 13, 2019

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Ada JoAnn Taylor of Nebraska, United States, gave a confession that resulted in her conviction for the murder of Helena Wilson in 1985. After being sentenced to 40 years, it was found through DNA testing that she had lied and she was released.

Terrell Swift, Harold Richardson and Michael Saunders all gave statements that they had raped and murdered Nina Glover in 1994. They were cleared in 2011 based on DNA evidence.

Jonathon Barr, Robert Taylor, Shainne Sharp, James Harden and Robert Veal were sentenced to life in prison for the 1991 murder of Catersa Matthews based on self-incriminating confessions given to investigators. In November, 2011, they were freed based on the findings of DNA testing. The confessions had been false.

Here in Jamaica we had the recent saga involving Police Constable Collis “Chucky” Brown.

The conviction of this officer was based on a 93-page confession that he had given to INDECOM. Well, for a man to do this to himself he has to be crazy, or he had to have been offered something in return for his cooperation.

If he is found to be insane, his statement is useless in a Jamaican court.

If he was induced in any way, his statement is also useless in a Jamaican court.

Therefore, to convict him you have to believe that he —in a sound state of mind and of his own free will and without being promised anything —gave a statement implicating himself in multiple homicides.

If you believe the latter, let me be the first person to offer you the opportunity to purchase our new causeway, because it would mean you will believe anything.

Well, a jury of Chucky's peers believed it and convicted him. This really calls into question the jury system of justice. And if he really did this in the way it has been presented, then it calls into question the recruitment policies of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), because it would mean they had enlisted a halfwit.

In any case, it is done and the question is — Will it stand up to appeals? (which I am sure are going to be filed).

Firstly, a video was shown with him implicating himself in multiple crimes it seems a bit odd that this video was allowed as evidence. Our law requires you to be cautioned before you implicate yourself in a crime. This video was taken without his knowledge, so he could not have been so cautioned. So as far as he believed, he was simply having a discussion.

I think it is a dumb law, but laws are laws and this one exists. So, how are they going to get this past the Court of Appeal?

This is in addition to my previous mention of trying to convince anyone, let alone our wisest jurists, that he was not offered anything for his self-incrimination.

Let us refer to the cases I highlighted earlier from the United States that demonstrate the possibility of self-incrimination. What occurred in these cases is that persons who gave statements did so without their lawyers present.

Our system has long since moved away from that and if a suspect is trying to give you a statement, then you are required to ensure he has a lawyer present.

This is called a caution statement. This is really counter-productive because our criminal lawyers, who are the best in the world, immediately tell the suspect to shut his damn mouth.

This silly practice impacts convictions and arrests, but, to be fair, it does protect the accused from being subject to unfair, 24-hour interrogations that result in false confessions. It also prevents side deals and inducements that can self-incriminate suspects or, more importantly, impact innocent third parties.

So, let us ask ourselves (being sensible people) what the hell happened between that video of a pompous little man chatting away and the day when he was in fact charged?

Was he made to believe he would be charged?

If he was, then he likely would have refused to give evidence to assist the much- sought after destruction of his peers. Maybe this was when he learnt that he was to be caged like an animal with them.

Is this what led to the current situation?

More importantly, what led him to give a statement incriminating himself? What was he promised? Why is he so dumb? And while we are at it, who in the world was his lawyer on the day he gave that statement?

Also, what does this say about the character of the man himself, that whilst smiling and sharing meals with his colleagues he was plotting their demise? Was this a Brutus in Caesar's company or a Judas Jesus's company?

What does this mean for INDECOM?

Well, they convicted a man who signed a 93-page confession. It is a bit like finding garbage at a dump. I wonder how much the European human rights community values that. After all, this is all about pleasing them.

Or, was Brown just plain crazy and all of this is rubbish?

What does this all mean going forward?

Well, we could call him a whistle-blower, although this whistle-blower is kind of special in how he is motivated or how he negotiates his deals.

What is also unique is how this whistle-blower was treated. Usually, the cowards throw their colleagues under a bus and save themselves.

This time the whistle-blower is the one who is wrestling with a tyre. One thing is for sure — there will never be a whistle blower again. And maybe that is a good thing.

Jason McKay is a criminologist. Feedback: jasonamckay@gmail.com


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