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The Whitmore Confessions and Richard Robles Trial: 1965

Whitmore Retried In Assault Case

George Whitmore was retried for attempted rape in March 1966. Borrero's shaky but impassioned identification and Whitmore's confession were the prosecution's only evidence. Whitmore's attorney argued vehemently to introduce the Wylie-Hoffert episode in court, attempting to illustrate the tainted atmosphere in which the confession was obtained. When the judge agreed with the prosecution that past charges against the defendant should not be discussed before the jury—ironically reversing the protective nature of this rule to Whitmore's disadvantage—the defense attorney remained mute in protest for the rest of the trial. Whitmore was found guilty.

On June 13, 1966, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down the Miranda decision regarding the rights of crime suspects. The court acknowledged that coercive interrogations could produce false confessions. "The most conspicuous example occurred in New York in 1964," stated a footnote, "when a Negro of limited intelligence confessed to two brutal murders and a rape which he had not committed. When this was discovered, the prosecutor was reported as saying: 'Call it what you want—brain-washing, hypnosis, fright. The only thing I don't believe is that Whitmore was beaten.'"

The Miranda decision eliminated Whitmore's retrial for the Edmonds murder because his confession was the only evidence against him. When the high court voted not to apply the Miranda rule retroactively, however, Whitmore's attempted rape conviction stood. It was later overturned when an appellate court decided that preventing testimony about the Wylie-Hoffert "confession" had put the defense at a disadvantage.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1963 to 1972The Whitmore Confessions and Richard Robles Trial: 1965 - Confessions Discredited, Richard Robles Arrested, Whitmore Retried In Assault Case, Whitmore Convicted Again, Then Released