Confession Tapes episode one True East
The new Netflix documentary series Confession Tapes is an eye opener for anyone who does not believe in false confessions. The first episode tells the story of Atif Rafy and Sebastian Burns, two young men tricked into confessing and who remain in prison.
The filmmakers allow the story to develop without spinning it to a particular viewpoint. Viewers get to listen to the rationale of lead detective Bob Thompson and prosecutor Roger Davidheiser try to defend how they put two innocent people in prison for the rest of their lives.
As you listen to these two men tell in great detail how they went about setting Atif and Sebastian up for murder, you want to scream at the TV. Okay, I admit it, I screamed at the TV. Detective Thompson can’t hide his dishonesty. He admits to leaking details of the investigation to the press. Like the time when he told the press that Atif Rafy and Sebastian Burns had fled the country. The truth is they were free to leave the country and they told the police where they were going. If you were to look up the definition of tunnel vision, you would see pictures of Bob Thompson and Roger Davidheiser.
I won’t get into the dirty tricks these two men played to get their supposed confessions, but I will mention a few of the more despicable acts they undertook. One that stands out was the move Roger Davidheiser made by personally calling the employer of a person whose testimony he wanted. What he got was a perjured statement, made under threat, that sealed the fate of the two defendants. Next, we have detective Thompson explain away his unwillingness to follow a lead that was hand delivered to him, a lead that pointed to the best suspects.
Let’s not forget trial judge Charles Mertel, who allowed in the confessions, gathered through illegal means (in the U.S.), and denied the defendants every opportunity to put up a defense.
This case is disturbing on so many levels, from the juror whose only comment was on how well dressed the prosecutor was, to the judge who made questionable rulings that prevented a fair trial, to the lead detective and prosecutor who pursued their suspects even after learning the identity of the people most likely responsible for the crime.
Atif and Sebastian have exhausted their appeals. I pray that the right people will view this film and allow the truth to set them free. I’ll comment on the other episodes in this excellent documentary series as I see them.
Read my review of Season two here.