UNTRUE CONFESSIONS

MENTALLY IMPAIRED SUSPECTS SOMETIMES MAKE FALSE ADMISSIONS. IS GIRVIES DAVIS ABOUT TO DIE FOR ONE?

On this much, the police and Girvies Davis can agree. On Dec. 22, 1978, Charles Biebel, an 89-year-old retired farmer, was found slumped in his wheelchair in a mobile home in Belleville, Illinois, his chest shredded by two bullet wounds. The following August, Davis, a 20-year-old alcoholic with a childhood history of brain damage and suicide attempts, and an arrest record dating back to age 8, was picked up for the armed robbery of an auto-parts store in East St. Louis. Ten days later, Davis confessed to 11 crimes, among them the Biebel murder.

The validity of his confession, however, is...

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