Tag: False memories
(Suomenkieliset tekstit kts. oikealla kategoriassa “in Finnish”.)
I am publishing here what was said in the press back in 2010 when Anneli Auer was convicted for the murder of her husband. Helsingin Sanomat is Finland’s largest daily news paper.Wife found guilty of killing her husband in long-running Ulvila homicide case
published 23 Jun 2010 HELSINGIN SANOMAT – INTERNATIONAL EDITION
Law professor expresses doubts over court’s call for psychiatric examination; defence to appeal
The District Court of Satakunta found on Tuesday that the woman accused of killing her husband in Ulvila near Pori in December 2006 was guilty as charged. However, the verdict was not unanimous. The laamanni or “lawspeaker” presiding over the court and one of the judges found the woman guilty, while a second judge felt that there was not enough evidence to convict the defendant.
The District Court ordered the defendant to undergo a psychiatric examination, which is likely to take several months. After the examination, the court will give its final verdict. In addition to the actual punishment, the court will have to decide whether the act was murder or manslaughter.
According to Professor of Criminal Law Matti Tolvanen from the University of Eastern Finland, it is very rare that the members of the court disagree so much on the verdict in a criminal case like the one in Ulvila. ”The outcome of the proceedings indicates that in terms of proof the case is very difficult. The evidence in the case is so contradictory that with good reason one could decide either way”, Tolvanen interprets. District Prosecutor Jarmo Valkama says that he thought already in advance that the judges might not reach agreement on a verdict.
However, most members of the court had no reasonable doubt as to the defendant’s guilt. The most significant piece of evidence was the emergency call the woman placed. The call was interpreted to indicate that during the conversation there was no outside assailant in the house. However, the judge who was in the minority felt that the emergency call cannot prove beyond doubt that there was no outside killer in the house. He also questions whether the woman could have had enough time to stage the crime scene before the police arrived.
Professor Tolvanen notes that the court has been considering its decision very thoroughly. He also says that it is not exceptional that in a homicide case a verdict is given mainly on the basis of having all other potential perpetrators ruled out. ”It is true that there is not much direct evidence in this case”, Tolvanen acknowledged. Moreover, Tolvanen regards as surprising the court’s decision to order the defendant to undergo a psychiatric examination, which the defence has refused, while the prosecutor has not called for one, either. Tolvanen feels that this decision is in conflict with the fact that the ruling clearly stated that the defendant’s behaviour had been quite logical during the incident. Defence Counsel Juha Manner announced already on Tuesday that the woman will appeal against the upcoming verdict to the Court of Appeals. ”The interim verdict was quite a shock to my client, as she believed that she would be released today. She had already packed all her things in order to go home”, Manner said.
The woman has been in police custody since last September, when she was arrested and accused of murdering her husband in December 2006. The wife claimed at the time that a masked outside assailant had killed her husband. The police launched extensive investigations, during which several suspects were arrested and DNA samples were taken from a total of 600 men in the province. In the autumn of 2008 the officer in charge of the investigation was replaced, whereafter suspicions towards the widow started to build up.
The following autumn, the District Court remanded the widow in custody over suspicion of killing her husband. The operation has involved a number of twists and turns: DNA tests, telephone tapping, and covert police action. The police eventually completed their preliminary investigations in January 2010.
Anneli Auer was later rightly acquitted, on the 1st of July 2011, by the Court of Appeals judges unanimous votes 3-0. They found it impossible that Anneli would have had enough time (about two minutes) before the police arrived, to hide the murder weapon, clean herself from blood, and to set the scene to look like an outside intruder had entered the house and killed her husband. A murder weapon is still missing, and brown textile fibres that were found along with someone’s DNA are still unexplained. There is also the nine year old daughter’s testimony, that she saw the hooded intruder leaving their home.
The emergency call
The emergency call is about four minutes long, during which time Anneli’s husband got killed. The police arrived to the scene two minutes later. I have listened to the emergency call recording, and it is clear to me that there is someone else in the house battling with Anneli’s husband while Anneli is on the phone. Sounds of furniture moving, her husband’s cries for help by her name, and sounds of someone hitting her husband can be heard very clearly.
Satakunta police department has had the emergency call transcribed, and the transcription has been widely distributed in the Finnish tabloid press, and on the internet. The transcription is very poorly made, and its content does not represent accurately what can be heard in the recording. The readers of these false transcriptions are forming their views of what happened on false information. And that information has been designed to make Anneli look guilty.
Lack of proof
The law professor in the news paper article admits that in terms of proof the case is very difficult. Doesn’t that mean, that when there is no proof, or not enough proof, a person should not be convicted? When the proof does not match, isn’t it at all likely that the defendant might be innocent? Why are the Satakunta police and the prosecutors determined to prove Anneli’s involvement in the murder of her late husband? If they cannot find an outside intruder, does it really mean that it must have been someone who they know was present at the time, i.e. the wife.? Isn’t it a bit too simplistic way of investigating this horrendous crime?
Anneli Auer’s psychiatric examination gave her very good evaluation. She is a stable and a very normal person. Why are the Satakunta police and the prosecutors treating her and her eldest daughter like they are psychopaths capable of murdering daddy together? Cold-bloodedly pre-planning the murder and then executing it together, AND pre-recording the whole thing. A mother and a nine year old daughter, give me a break! They would deserve an Oscar for the acting and the technical competence to play the recording back so that it has the same constant atmospheric soundscape, and also syncing it correctly to their emergency call.
“New evidence” from a traumatised little boy
The prosecutors appealed successfully to the Supreme Court, which decided to bounce the Ulvila murder case back to the District Court. The proceedings will start again in August 2013. The so called new evidence came from Anneli’s 12 year old son, who five years after the murder suddenly claimed having new memories; that the killer was actually his mother along with his sister. At the time of the murder he was seven years old, and had stayed in his bedroom holding a pillow over his ears. Five years later, and after several police interviews, he has totally different memories. These spring into his mind when he hears about the sudden release of his mother from prison in May 2011.
This boy has already lost his farther in very frightening circumstances, then two years later also his mother, who was jailed. The boy learned that the scary murderer was actually his own mother. The mother was jailed for life in prison, and the boy moved with his sisters to their uncle’s house. The older sister did not get along with the new foster parents and was moved to a children’s home a few months later. Surely the rest of the children must have felt fear that they, too, would have to leave their new home, if they did anything wrong. The need to please their uncle and his wife must have been very strong. A culture of blame emerged, where all blame was always put on the older sister. A fear towards her was born. Hence, the blame for the murder was put on her shoulders in the boys mind. I believe that he believes the stories he tells. I do not think that he necessary lies at all. He has confused real events with lots of false information he has heard/read from several sources, and possibly created so called false memories in his mind. His uncle conducted several video interviews, and who knows how many verbal rehearsals, with the little boy and his sisters before passing the “new evidence” to the prosecutors after Anneli had been released from prison. It is still unclear whether the initiative to do so came from himself, or from the authorities wanting to nail Anneli.
I do not hold this little boy responsible for what has happened here. Two innocent people are in prison, but it is not this boys fault. I am angry with the authorities who’s job it is to protect children. Causing life long traumas for children should be punishable, regardless whether the perpetrators are the parents or the authorities.
You can read more about the story in English here: www.helsinkitaxidriver.com
WATCH 5 minute video of professor Elizabeth Loftus explaining how easily false memories can be formed even in the minds of intelligent adult subjects. Professor Loftus has researched the appearance of false memories in witness statements.
1 minute video with professor Loftus; It can be done!