A Coerced Confession Backfires

Because of real investigative journalism by WBUR, Boston’s public radio station, a Massachusetts judge has reluctantly released a moving videotape of a heartless two-hour police interrogation of a teenage mother the day after her baby’s death.

In the video Nga Truang, a slight Vietnamese-American a few days shy of her 17th birthday, sits motionless and cries softly as two full-size Worcester, Massachusetts detectives badger her to come clean with them. The detectives tell her a number of lies, including the false information that an autopsy proved 13-month-old Khyle had been suffocated. In fact, the autopsy was inconclusive: her son had been sick with strep throat and tracheobronchitis when he died, and he had a history of breathing problems; his temperature an hour after death was still at 101°F.

Still, after the detectives make promises of leniency and help, she tells them, yes, she smothered her baby. Of course she received no help: She spent the next three years in jail while attorneys argued about the admissibility of the confession, which was ultimately rejected by a judge—the primary reason seems to be that she should have received more careful Miranda warnings at her young age.

This afternoon NPR ran a feature story about the case:   The story NPR ran today

WBUR also posted its own treatment, which starts at this link.

WBUR also posted excerpts of the videos and additional commentary by the reporter, at excerpts  and commentary.


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2 responses to “A Coerced Confession Backfires

  1. Pingback: Communication, and Miscommunication, in the Courtroom | On SBS

  2. Pingback: Investigative Journalism Lives | Reporting on Health

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