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Monday, May 05, 2008

What's more important--a Confession or a Conviction?

Anon alerted to me a news story about Iris L. Brown--a woman who was kidnapped, strangled and dumped along Interstate 89 in 1976. For 32 years, her family didn't know what happened to her until a dying man in a Butner, NC, federal prison was offered immunity in return for the details of her death.

William Posey was sentenced to life in prison in 1980 for kidnapping her but never owned up to the murder. Cold case investigators and Ms. Brown's family figured it was more important to find out what happened to her than getting a conviction for her murder. Their gamble paid off. They can at least put to rest all those questions in their mind. And since Posey is already serving a life sentence for another murder and is terminally ill, there didn't seem to be any advantage to trying to bring him to trial for Iris Brown's murder.

I'm curious to find out what you readers think about trading off immunity for a confession. At what point, if any, would you put that offer on the table if one of your family members were killed and you had a suspect for the murder?

Here's the link to the rest of the newspaper article:


Maritime Missy


At 7:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd take the confession in exchange for immunity any day. JJA

At 9:05 AM, Anonymous Maritime Missy said...

I'm inclined to agree. I'd take the confession. A trial only confirms the confession. (Don't get me wrong...I'd still like to see a murderer behind bars...but if he's already there...what does a trial accomplish??)

At 9:18 AM, Blogger Bill Widman said...

Finding the remains of a loved one is important to me. Sometimes the killer is the only who knows where the body is. I'm sure anyone in that situation would be willing to cut some slack in exchange for that info.

In the case of a man who's already convicted and terminally ill, there doesn't seem much point in another conviction anyway.

Every day I wonder if today's the day I get a call telling me they found a skeleton somewhere that they have a positive ID on.

I'd love to have a place to go to remember Debbie besides a parking lot in Carrboro.

It would sure be a lot easier to forgive a killer if he tells us what we want to know.

At 4:25 PM, Blogger Raging Ranter said...

I'm basically just aping what has already been said. But he's already been incarcerated life, and he's terminally ill. This is the last chance to solve the crime and find answers. The immunity offer is simply a tool used to pry loose some vital information. It certainly isn't an exoneration of the murderer. No killer will be turned loose as the result of this, yet answers will be found. I say every effort should be made to get the confession and VERIFY it so that the family will have answers. His immunity is a side-note at this point - he likely wouldn't live long enough to see a trial anyway.

The Green River Killer, Gary Leon Ridgeway, was granted immunity from the death penalty in exchange for details leading to the recovery of remains of numerous victims. It was more galling in that he was NOT terminally ill, and he WAS gaining something tangible from the deal (he was being allowed to live). Yet the prosecutors and the victims families felt it was worth it, in order to get as many answers and recover as many remains as possible.


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