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Reliance on Getting Confessions Tied to Abuses, Weakened Cases. FOR SIDEBARS - 1) People vs. William Rupp 2) People vs. James Diaz 3) People vs. Douglas Johnson 4) People vs. James Troiano 5) How Study Was Done. 6) DA Disputes Finding on Sentences - see end of text Series: Suffolk Homicide/The Confession Takers. First in a series
Newsday - Long Island, N.Y.
Author: By Thomas J. Maier and Rex Smith
Date: Dec 7, 1986
Start Page: 05
Section: NEWS
Abstract (Document Summary)

Despite the high confession rate, those Newsday Photo by John Paraskevas - [Henry O'Brien], former Suffolk district attorney charged in homicide cases, if convicted, generally face lower minimum sentences than in Nassau or Westchester. In the past five years, suspects charged with murder, once convicted, have been given average sentences of 13.5 years in Suffolk, compared to 15.9 years in Nassau and 15.8 years in Westchester. The sentence disparities appear in part to result from a pattern of lenient plea bargaining because of weak cases in Suffolk.

Jurors' doubts about Suffolk policies in murder cases came after a period in which state appeals courts displayed similar suspicions. Nine Suffolk murder convictions were overturned in five years. The decisions in Suffolk cases added restrictions on police statewide - and, because of unconstitutional interrogations by Suffolk detectives, allowed some defendants to walk free.

Newsday Photos by John Paraskevas - 1) [Patrick Henry], Suffolk district attorney. 2) Judge [Stuart Namm] at Criminal Court. 3) [Charles Peterson], former deputy police commissioner. 4) Henry O'Brien, former Suffolk district attorney 5) [John Buonora], former chief felony prosecutor. Photos - 6) Detectives at the murder scene. 7) [James Troiano] with police near the murder site. 8) [William Rupp] at the time of his arrest. Newsday Graph by Steve Madden - Inside The Homicide Files - See End of Text. Newsday Color Cover Photo by John Paraskevas - Portion of a confession signed by [Christine Wingate], which she later disputed in court; The Confession Takers. Suffolk police come up with incriminating statements in 94% of their homicide cases. But their emphasis on getting such statements has led to questions about police conduct and has weakened cases. Newsday Cover Color Photo by John Paraskevas - Portion of a confession signed by Christine Wingate, which she later disputed in court

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