In this week’s episode of This American Life, reporter Saul Elbein tells the story of a former Metropolitan Police detective who mistakenly coerced an innocent woman into confessing to a 1994 murder she didn’t commit.
At the time, the overwhelming majority of confessions in this country were not videotaped. Usually police only turned on a recorder when they were ready to tape the final confession. But luckily, in Kim’s interrogation, [Detective] Jim [Trainum] and his partners messed up. […] By the end of it, Jim saw why Kim’s confession had been so completely convincing—they had inadvertently rehearsed for 17 hours. Kim appeared so cold-blooded and unrepentant because she was just exhausted.
Trainum is now a consultant, giving talks to law schools and police departments about the failures in his detective work that lead to Kimberly’s false confession. Kimberly was not imprisoned in connection with the case, but being a murder suspect has haunted her for many years.
Skip to 10:20 to hear the piece in its entirety or click here.