November 16, 2010

Police psychologist settles confession suit for $1 million

A psychologist who helped police obtain a false confession from 14-year-old Michael Crowe has settled out of court for $1 million. A judge had called the aggressive interrogations of Crowe and two friends "psychologically abusive."

Dr. Lawrence "Deadlift" Blum, a police psychologist, helped police in Escondido, California formulate the "tactical plan" that they used to get Michael to confess to the murder of his 12-year-old sister, according to the Crowe family's lawsuit.

Blum admitted in a pretrial deposition that he told a police detective that 15-year-old Aaron Houser, Michael's friend, was a "Charlie Manson wannabe."

Only through serendipity were the boys' charges dismissed more than a year after their arrests, when DNA evidence proved that a mentally ill transient had committed the murder. That man, Richard Tuite, was ultimately convicted of manslaughter.

Images from the videotape of Michael Crowe's interrogation.

The family's lawsuit against the police is still pending in federal court.

Crowe's confession became the subject of an award-winning Court TV documentary that I show to my graduate students. (Unfortunately, The System: The Interrogation of Michael Crowe is no longer commercially available, as far as I can determine.)

The San Diego Union-Tribune coverage of the settlement is HERE. My prior coverage of the case is HERE. The Tru Crime Library (formerly Court TV) has more background on the case HERE.


Phoenix said...

I was able to find the video for sale...

Karen Franklin, Ph.D. said...

Thanks, Phoenix. I believe that is a dramatic reenactment. There is also a Court TV documentary, entitled "The System: Interrogation of Michael Crowe" that is excellent, but harder to come by.