About False Confessions.... 
The phenomena and research of false confessions has been the obsession of several notable people in the psychology world. Dr. Saul Kassin, professor of psychology at Williams College has done clinical research on this subject dating back to the 1980’s. He has written numerous books and papers about false confessions and is considered to be the most sought after expert regarding them. There are three main categories that individuals fall into when providing a false confession. In our view, Erick Westervelt’s behavior in this case could be classified to fit all of those categories. Rather than try to educate our readers in this blog, we will pass on a few websites that explain things in detail. The internet has many websites concerning this subject; just do a search.


http://www.innocenceproject.org/underst ... ssions.php



http://www.poststar.com/articles/2008/1 ... 196911.txt

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Westervelt Case 
The interrogation process in this case was extremely coercive, but legal. However, police investigators are not trained experienced psychologists. There is evidence in the transcripts that the investigators may have encountered a perilous area of behavior on the part of their suspect that was unfamiliar to them. There are many documented circumstances of certain susceptible individuals providing false confessions under the right circumstances. Erick Westervelt appears to be a classic example of this type of individual. Here are some recent examples of proven false confessions. Unfortunately, in this case there is no DNA evidence to exonerate him.

http://www.law.northwestern.edu/wrongfu ... mmary.html

http://www.martytankleff.org/Gui/Conten ... Page=Home2

http://wrongfulconvictions.blogspot.com ... chive.html

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Westervelt Case 
Whenever a piece does not fit the puzzle, it must be scrutinized as to why. There are many pieces that do not fit into place in this case. Here are just a few.

1. The apparent time of the attack of the victim was most likely between 9:15 PM and 10:30 PM on October 5th, 2004, as secured by the testimony of two neighbors. The Westervelt family positively place him at home watching the first game of the baseball playoff series. This and other factors of that day were very vivid and easily remembered and yet they were never interviewed by authorities. During the trial the parents were labeled as liars by the prosecution with no evidence to support their claim.

2. All of the clothing and weapon that Westervelt confessed to throwing in a neighbor’s garbage can was found at his residence with no forensic evidence of the crime. There was no forensic evidence found in the suspect’s car either.

3. There was no DNA of the suspect found at the crime scene.

4. No witnesses positively placed the suspect in the area that day.

5. There was a note, typewritten in Italian, found at the crime scene. Westervelt offered an explanation in his confession that he created it at the Guilderland Library. This was never corroborated by the police.

6. The actual murder weapon was never scientifically proven or offered into evidence by the prosecution.

Here is an example of a wrongful conviction by neglecting the evidence…….

http://www.rockymountainnews.com/news/s ... m-masters/

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Westervelt Case 
We have come to some initial conclusions about this case. After reviewing the transcripts of the trial and interrogation videos, there are many questionable aspects about the investigative and judicial process of this crime. We also have not found any indication that any other investigative theories were pursued other than implicating Westervelt. He was the primary focus of the investigation. To our knowledge, the family was never interviewed by the police in order to prove or disprove Westervelt’s alibi. Also in the course of the trial, it became evident that the New York State Police Forensic Investigative Center was consulted on some aspects of the case, but not the most important one; the forensics of the theoretical murder weapon. The prosecution’s theory was just that – a theory - that was not supported by any physical evidence. Any investigative procedure must be objective. The professional and moral responsibility of law enforcement officers must be to prove someone is innocent as much as guilty. The same responsibility must be adhered to by the prosecutors.

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Erick Westervelt Case 
Here is a link to an editorial written by Melissa Hale-Spencer, editor of the Altamont Enterprise about Erick Westervelt. It brings to light some aspects of the case that are unknown to most people.

http://www.altamontenterprise.com/Weekl ... rial2.html

This is a link to several in depth articles written by reporter Jarrett Carroll with the same newspaper.

http://altamontenterprise.com/Weekly%20 ... land1.html

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Erick Westervelt Case 
NCJ has been compiling all of the public records that are available pertaining to this case. It is an enormous ongoing task. There are many facets to review as more questions arise. A surprisingly widespread pattern of questionable conduct by many members of Albany County criminal justice system arose early on, as our people analyzed the information. Be reminded that our mission is to be objective in reviewing and reporting on cases in the NYS criminal justice system.

Here are links to the local newspaper articles.

http://altamontenterprise.com/Weekly%20 ... rial1.html

http://altamontenterprise.com/Weekly%20 ... land1.html

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Erick Westervelt Case 
Several members of NCJ reviewed videos of a jailhouse interview with Erick that was presented by WRGB TV (Ch. 6), Schenectady, NY.

The videos can be seen here.

http://www.vtap.com/cgi-bin/clip.cgi?sl ... _1c7e22d3c

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New Direction 
The North Country Justice Blog has not been actively published for six months. We realized that the requirements for maintaining a daily blog were enormous and extremely time consuming.

Therefore we all made the decision to re-focus our energy on a select few cases that indicated flaws within the North Country criminal justice system, resulting in wrongful convictions and/or poorly investigated crimes.

We will begin with highlighting a case that came to our attention in early 2008. One of our group leaders had been intensely reviewing a criminal case in Albany county that resulted in a conviction and sentencing of a young man that had been accused of killing his father and seriously injuring his mother. While the facets of this case were extremely complex and perplexing on both sides, another case paralleling the same time line had even more complexity and compelling questions.

The first case mentioned was that of Christopher Porco of Bethlehem, NY. The other case that was over-shadowed by the extremely high profile reporting of the Porco case, was that of another young man from the same region by the name of Erick Westervelt.

As much as the two cases have many similarities, they also have much diversity. It was extremely hard to suddenly switch our focus from one case to the other, but it became obvious to our group that there were many more unexplained issues in the Westervelt case than in the Porco case. Not to say that we totally abandoned the latter, it was decided to place more resources toward the Westervelt case.

Therefore, in the months ahead we will be reporting on the issues surrounding the Westervelt case and will compare the similarities in the two cases.

Here is a synopsis of what the two cases are about.




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