In about 25% of DNA exoneration cases, false confessions led to the suspect’s conviction. The phenomenon of false confessions is not only the result of aggressive police interrogation but also police contamination of the confession in which the suspect is fed details of the crime to make it seem plausible. Thibodeaux was just another victim of this corrupt practice. There was no physical evidence linking Thibodeaux to the crime and a sample of blood found on the murder weapon excluded him as the perpetrator. This sample may aid in the search for the real killer, and this is important because the Champagne family deserves some measure of justice.
Thibodeaux’s exoneration, the 2nd death row exoneration this year, highlights the fundamental flaw in the archaic practice of state executions. There is no room for doubt when imposing an irreversible sentence, but there is no way to eliminate error (intentional or otherwise) from our criminal justice system.
Cases like Thibodeaux’s remind us that Louisiana, and all states, should be denied the power to impose the death penalty.