The Second Department, reversing defendant’s murder conviction, determined the defense “false confession” expert should have been allowed to testify. The defendant was 15 when arrested. He maintained his innocence for two hours and 45 minutes of interrogation before confessing. The Second Department rejected defendant’s argument that he was denied his right to confront witnesses by statements in the video interrogation that nontestifying witnesses had implicated the defendant:
Contrary to the defendant’s contention, his right to confrontation was not violated when the Supreme Court allowed into evidence portions of his videotaped statement to law enforcement officials that contained statements that nontestifying witnesses had implicated him in the crime. The statements were not received for their truth, but to explain the defendant’s reaction to hearing them … . Further, the court properly instructed the jury that it was not to consider any of the statements as evidence against the defendant, and the jury is presumed to have followed this admonition … . * * *
… Supreme Court improvidently exercised its discretion in denying the defendant’s application to permit testimony from his expert witness on the issue of false confessions. We have previously determined that “it cannot be said that psychological studies bearing on the reliability of a confession are, as a general matter, within the ken of the typical juror'” … . Thus, here, the court should not have precluded the testimony of the defendant’s expert witness on this ground.
Further, “[w]ith regard to expert testimony on the phenomenon of false confessions, in order to be admissible, the expert’s proffer must be relevant to the [particular] defendant and interrogation before the court'” … . Here, the report of the defendant’s expert was sufficiently detailed so that it was relevant to this particular defendant, including discussing characteristics that heightened his vulnerability to manipulation, and the interrogation conducted by the detectives, such as the techniques that were utilized and the improper participation of the defendant’s mother during the interview. People v Churaman, 2020 NY Slip Op 03526, Second Dept 6-24-20