Attorney Steven Drizin, who specializes in police interrogations and false confessions, said a Target 8 investigation into the Parrack case has prompted him to pick up the fight for Raymond McCann.
“This is a case where police officer tunnel vision essentially consumed and spit out one of their own, not somebody who has a long criminal history, who has a history of lying to the police or deceiving the police. This is somebody who worked with the police,” said Drizin, a clinical professor of law at Northwestern Law School in Chicago, where he once ran the Center on Wrongful Convictions.
Drizin is perhaps known best as the attorney fighting to overturn the murder conviction of Brendan Dassey, the nephew of Steven Avery, the main character in “Making a Murderer.” Both are serving life for the 2005 murder of 25-year-old photographer Teresa Halbach.
He said he hopes he can overturn McCann’s conviction — based on hours of video-recorded interrogations obtained by Target 8.
“Watching your story, the story resonated with me, and I wanted to reach out and see if I could help,” he said.
Drizin said he has spoken with McCann by phone and plans to meet him soon, working with the Michigan Innocence Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School.
“My hope here is after a few weeks, maybe a little while longer of really digging into this case, that myself, my colleagues at the Michigan Innocence Clinic will meet with members of the Michigan State Police and enlist their help to right this wrong. I have enormous respect for the Michigan State Police,” Drizin said.
It was the Michigan State Police that took over the 2007 murder case and whose detectives repeatedly interrogated McCann.
“They are locked in on Mr. McCann as the prime suspect in this murder and they are ignoring numerous red flags that should have said to them, screamed at them, actually, this is an innocent person,” he said.
“You’ve got 86 denials. You’ve got emphatic denials.”
He said he is struck by the lies told by investigators — lies exposed by the Target 8 investigation. Among them, that police had scientific evidence that McCann touched her body. In the U.S., police are allowed to lie during interrogations.
“But if they are inducing inconsistencies and building a perjury case based on lies that they themselves tell, that’s a very weak case, and perhaps a perjury case that should never have been filed,” he said.
What also troubles him, he said, is what happened “after” Daniel Furlong confessed last year to killing Jodi Parrack, that he worked alone and didn’t know McCann.
Police Chief Mark Honeysett visited McCann in prison, suggesting he was still involved with Parrack’s murder.
“What we have here is a fundamental lack of humility in the criminal justice system by those who are responsible for what I believe to be a wrongful conviction, certainly a wrongful arrest,” he said.
“But either way, they destroyed a man’s reputation and standing in the community. They should apologize for that. They should say we made a mistake here and they should clear him of any suspicion in connection with this crime.”
He said everybody should care about what happened to McCann. “Because if it could happen to Raymond McCann, it could happen to you.”
Michigan State Police has defended its interrogation techniques, saying they were legal and accepted. They also said they are convinced Furlong worked alone. They referred questions about the case to St. Joseph County Prosecutor John McDonough, who did not return calls for comment.