- 15 Years
In 2005, the body of sex worker Bobbie Sue Hill was discovered in a creek in rural Parker County. The Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Hill’s death was a result of strangulation. During the investigation, Ms. Hill’s boyfriend/pimp told investigators that he had seen a man drive off with her in a white minivan several days earlier. The witness worked with a forensic artist to develop a sketch of the suspect. No suspects were identified, and the case remains unsolved.
In 2014, the Texas Rangers cold case unit reviewed the case. The Ranger overseeing the case had Ms. Hill’s boyfriend undergo forensic hypnosis at that time, nine years after the crime took place. This took place at the jail where he was being held on unrelated charges. Courts throughout the U.S. have banned testimony from witnesses who had been hypnotized, but the practice is still admissible in Texas. As a result of the hypnosis, the description of the suspect and the van changed considerably. The sketch artist then “aged” the sketch to account for the passage of time.
This new sketch was circulated in local media, and a cash reward was offered to anyone who could identify the “person” depicted in the sketch. A man called authorities and reported that the sketch resembled his acquaintance, Larry Driskell. Despite no physical evidence tying him to the crime, no criminal history, and no history of violent behavior, Larry was brought in for questioning under the ruse that he may have been a witness. The Texas Ranger proceeded to question Larry over several days. Larry eventually made admissions regarding the murder fed to him by his interrogators, although numerous details of his “confession” did not match the crime. He almost immediately rescinded his confession. Of the exonerations in the U.S. since 1989, 12% of them have included false confessions.
Larry was taken into custody and held on bond, which he could not afford to pay. After two and a half years in jail awaiting trial, Larry chose to plead no contest in exchange for a 15-year sentence. Innocence Project of Texas has requested that evidence recovered from the crime scene be tested for DNA. The Parker County District Attorney’s office agreed, and numerous items collected from the crime scene are currently undergoing DNA analysis.
Systemic Failures Have Wrongly
Imprisoned Thousands of
The Generosity of Their Fellow Citizens Can Provide Them
The Freedom They Deserve.