Transcript of Bill Eddins speaking at the Rotary Club on Sept 17, 2013
….They located the owner of the red van as a result of that being publicized or where the red van was. It was Leonard Gonzalez Sr. On Sunday, he was brought in, July 12th, he was brought in to the Sheriff’s office to be questioned and we expected that..we had developed enough evidence to charge him with accessory after the fact. We expected that is what he would be charged with. We developed evidence that he had tried to put on some paint, he started painting and had it hid behind his house. I decided to contact the Sheriff’s office and I went down to the Sheriff’s office and determined while he was talking to them he was not being honest. He was BS’ing them were the words I used. Paraphrasing. I asked the Sheriff if he thought it might be helpful if I spoke with him. He decided it would do no harm. I decided I would speak with him. So I did and indicated to him who I was and that I was the State Atty and that my office would be prosecuting these cases. And that we knew there were a large number of people involved based on what we’d seen on video tapes and we knew sooner or later some of them would talk and confess and tell on everybody else. I knew he wasn’t being truthful. I wasn’t gonna be there but 5 more minutes and our office decided whether-who we will seek the death penalty against. And I found in matters of this nature that it is always better to tell the truth. The train is leaving the station and if you want to get on it all you got to do is tell the truth. He started BS’ing me (I’m paraphrasing). I told him I was leaving and I walked outside. I told the Sheriff and the Sheriff and I discussed it. Sheriff Morgan and I agreed we could arrest him for accessory after the fact anyway since he obviously wasn’t gonna talk. A high bond was placed on him and we went back and told the investigators what we had done. One of the senior investigators got very upset and said “now you ruined it, we will never solve this case. This man is not gonna talk. WE could have got him to talk and here you go ruining it”. Just as he said that, a knock at the door came and the man said Mr. Gonzalez wants to know if you would possibly come back and speak to him again. So I did. I expected him to confess. He was an older man who lived a hard life and I expected him to tell me about being accessory after the fact, but when I sat down and gave him his rights, he let out the whole story. …from there we were able to round up the rest of the people. Some of them confessed; some didn’t
If this “confession” lead to the other arrests, wouldn’t it be ironic if this confession proved to be fruit from the poison tree? The poison tree being this inadmissable confession.
People with mental disabilities have often falsely confessed because they are tempted to accommodate and agree with authority figures. Further, many law enforcement interrogators are not given any special training on questioning suspects with mental disabilities. An impaired mental state due to mental illness, drugs or alcohol may also elicit false admissions of guilt.
Above is the Social Security Determination that establishes Leonard Gonzalez Sr. as suffering from dementia, concentration problems, memory impairment, and paranoid personality disorder, “Having marked difficulty in maintaining social function and deterioration of adaptive behavior”.
“After careful consideration of the full record” an Administrative Law Judge declared Mr. Gonzalez Sr. totally disabled under the standards defined by the SSA due to organic brain injury and mental impairment resulting from that injury. Gainful employment for any sustained period is unforseeable. Dementia and memory impairment are acknowledged and documented.
Being in Mr. Gonzalez Sr.’s presence, NO ONE can have the sense that he wasn’t mentally impaired. It is reported by family that on the day in question, that he was arrested, Mr. Gonzalez Sr. had been up for 3 days, smoking crack. Again making him far from sound mind and less apt to cover the deficiency he had psychologically and mentally, yet, Mr. Eddins took a confession of this man which led to 7 more arrests.
This confession is tainted by the knowledge of this man’s incapacity. All info stemming from this “confession” should have been inadmissable and this may have saved Mr. Gonzalez Sr.’s life as well as Pamela Wiggins.