It isn’t news to officers anywhere that interrogating a child without a parent present often leads to a false confession, especially if the child is emotionally or developmentally challenged.
Young Bryce Vandergrift is incarcerated for a homicide that the dying victim told an officer was committed by another child … his son. With Bryce’s distraught mother’s permission, I’m sharing his Holiday greeting to her, along with a condensed version based on work with the developmentally disabled decades ago … Because his mother lives in Florida, Bryce reminds her that it’s winter in Texas, where he’s incarcerated. He wants to write to authorities and get them to provide heat and clean up the place for all the children, and wants his mother’s help in getting addresses that he can’t get from the facility’s law library.
Like most wrongful convictions, Bryce’s was preventable. Interrogating minors without a parent present often leads to false confessions. When the child is mentally challenged, the odds of a false confession are off the charts.
A false confession was similarly obtained from young Davontae Sanford in Detroit, again without a parent present. Like Bryce, Davontae is mentally challenged, and – again like Bryce – there was little reason, if any, to even consider Davontae a suspect. Since Davontae’s conviction, one of the actual shooters confessed to the quadruple homicide, naming his accomplice and clearing Davontae.
While it isn’t news to officers that interrogating a child without a parent present often has disastrous results, it’s often news to the general public … at some point, the mainstream media is going to have to explain to Congress why they routinely chose to put the self-soiled reputations of public servants ahead of public safety.
Treating even one child – innocent or guilty – like a forgotten popsicle in a filthy freezer is unacceptable – I can’t help but wonder if Davontae is as bone-chillingly cold in Michigan as Bryce is in Texas.
Christy Clinton Phillip’s California conviction appears to be a carbon copy of Bryce and Davontae’s – a mentally challenged child, interrogated without a parent present, convicted on the basis of the resulting false confession. If you take the time to click the link below and sign the Change.org petition to help Christy, you’ll be helping Bryce and Davontae, too.
This song on YouTube may help you make up your mind to sign.
Update 1/20/2020: Bryce remains incarcerated, while the actual killers walk free. Please watch the video, and – if you haven’t the time to read all of the read part of the information posted by his mother on YouTube, please at least read the sentences I’ve posted below the video. Then please share widely to help free Bryce. Thank you. [As of today, Davontae remains exonerated (2016), but is under threat of being wrongly prosecuted again. As near as I can tell, Christy remains incarcerated.]
While EMS was working on the victim, he told police his own son Nick shot him. It’s in the police report. As is a blood splattered t shirt upstairs in Master Bathroom, a shirt known to have worn by the victims son.
An officer suspected the victims wife and wanted her investigated. Why wasn’t she investigated? The lawyer told the Judge, well your honor, it looks like my client was the shooter!