innocence blog

A Web log for the Innocence Institute of Point Park University

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Controversial Lie Detector Test

By Zach Lowe

Published April 26 2006 For the Stamford Advocate

Norwalk police used a lie detector that many scientists say is inaccurate to draw confessions from at least two men in the 2004 murder of a cab driver.

The men, who have admitted taking part in the killing, are expected to testify against the accused shooter, Rick Felix, 18, of 57 Stuart Ave., Norwalk, during his murder trial this week. Felix is charged with shooting Ralph Moreau, 28, during a botched robbery on Ely Avenue in November 2004.

Norwalk's police department is one of about 1,400 police departments and government agencies in the country that own the controversial voice stress analyzer, according to the Web site for the National Institute for Truth Verification, manufacturer of the machine.

The $10,000 machine, a computer that measures tiny tremors in a person's voice said to be caused by stress associated with lying, is easier to use than a polygraph and pins suspects in a corner where confession is their only choice, supporters say.

Those supporters, including Norwalk Police Chief Harry Rilling, say the machine is valuable even if its results are not perfect.

But scientists say it is no better at determining whether a suspect is lying than someone guessing.Several states have banned police from using the machines, experts said.

Prosecutors are not allowed to present the machine's results as evidence in nearly all court cases, including Felix's, according to a judge's ruling yesterday.

For the whole story click here.

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