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Stephanie Caparelli, J.D., Lecturer in Politics with a Specialization in Race and Criminal Justice

  • Winnetka Community House 620 Lincoln Ave Winnetka, IL 60093 United States (map)

Confessing to a Crime You Didn’t Commit: A Case Study Analysis in Interrogations and False Confession

Stephanie Caparelli, J.D., Lecturer in Politics with a Specialization in Race and Criminal Justice at Lake Forest College, will speak on the topic, Confessing to A Crime You Didn’t Commit: A Case Study Analysis in Interrogations and False Confession.  When asked whether they could envision a circumstance under which they might confess to a crime they didn't commit, most people respond with a confident and resounding "no." The prospect is difficult to fathom, which is why juries are often remiss when they render guilty verdicts where the defendant has confessed to a crime.  A confession is often held up to be the ultimate piece of inculpatory evidence.  However, the Innocence Project finds that more than 1 out of 4 wrongfully convicted persons ultimately exonerated by DNA evidence falsely confessed to the crime for which they were charged.  We will explore this phenomenon using the 1992 Waukegan murder of Holly Staker and the false confession of Juan Rivera.  Juan's false confession led to three separate juries rendering a guilty verdict for him, resulting in Juan spending 19 years in the Department of Corrections before finally being exonerated.

Stephanie Caparelli is a graduate of the Chicago-Kent College of Law, where she interned at the Lake County Juvenile Justice Division of the Lake County Public Defender as well as the Felony Trials Division of the Cook County Public Defender.  She practiced law as a trial lawyer in the Lake County Public Defender's Office before accepting a position at her alma mater, Lake Forest College, where she teaches courses on trial law, criminal procedure, Chicago criminal cases, and argument and rhetoric in law.

Guest musician: Chelsea French, Music Institute of Chicago and North Central College, and her colleague, Tom Stark.