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The Champion

December 2007 , Page 16 

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Overshadowing Innocence: Evaluating and Challenging The False Confession

By Julie E. Bear, Scott A. Bresler

What gets us into trouble is not what
we don’t know, it’s what we know for
sure that just ain’t so.
— Mark Twain 

In April 2006, the sheriff’s department in Cass County, Nebraska, proudly announced the arrest of Matthew Livers and his cousin, Nicholas Sampson, for the murder of Matthew’s aunt and uncle, a wealthy rural farm couple found shot to death in their home. Livers had confessed to killing the pair and implicated his cousin as a co-conspirator. The investigators proffered a number of different motives for the killings including greed, revenge, and family disharmony. The local prosecutor promptly filed charges against the two men and spoke of seeking the death penalty. There was a problem, however. The confession was false; not a word of it was true.

By June 2006, the Cass County Sheriff’s Department announced the arrest of 19-year-old Gregory Fester and 17-year-old Jessica Reid, two teenagers on a crime spree from Wisconsin. The teenagers later confessed

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