ST. Louis, MN – Police investigators must face claims that they coerced a murder confession from a severely mentally retarded man and planted evidence, the 8th Circuit ruled.
Matthew Livers filed a civil rights complaint alongside Nicholas Sampson, the man he implicated in his allegedly coerced confession. They claim that Nebraska state patrolmen and sheriff’s officers in Cass and Douglas Counties coerced a confession from Livers that connected them to the April 2006 murders of Sharmon and Wayne Stock, an aunt and uncle of Livers.
With an IQ of 63, Livers is in the first percentile for mental functioning. During a six-and-a-half-hour voluntary interrogation by police, Livers denied involvement in the murders more than 80 times before apparently telling investigators what they wanted to hear.
The interview materials show that the confession consisted mostly of “Livers’ responses to leading, yes-or-no questions,” according to the court.
“Many of Livers’ answers were ‘I don’t know,’ ‘I guess,’ or ‘I’m not sure,'” the court said. “Sampson’s name entered the confession when Investigator [Earl] Schenck suggested Livers must have received the keys to Will’s car from someone who had access to them. Livers responded that Sampson gave him the keys. Livers then agreed with Investigator Schenck’s suggestion Sampson provided the shotgun and ammunition.”
Prosecutors charged Livers and Sampson about a week and a half after the double murder had occurred. The charges against each man were dropped in December and October 2006, respectively, even though police had obtained confessions from different suspects linked by DNA evidence months earlier.
Submitted by Joe.