7 Feb 2016

Making a Murderer case 'similar' to Teina Pora's

12:03 pm on 7 February 2016

The similarities between an American teenager whose case featured in the hit TV series, Making a Murderer, and Teina Pora's wrongful conviction are "extraordinarily similar", his lawyer says.

Teina Pora.

Teina Pora. Photo: TVNZ / One News

Steven Drizin was one of the defence lawyers for Brendan Dassey, who was accused of helping his uncle Steven Avery commit murder.

Mr Drizin is Clinical Professor at Northwestern University Law School, Chicago, a world expert on false confessions and the co-founder of the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth.

Speaking to Sunday Morning with Wallace Chapman, Mr Drizin said the similarities between the cases were "stunning".

"We are talking about confessions from intellectually-limited teenagers. Brendan is learning disabled and has a very low IQ. Teina had foetal alcohol syndrome and other disabilities," he said.

"Both these young men were interrogated multiple times over several days without a lawyer present."

Both teenagers were also fed facts by the police which resulted in false confessions, he said.

"There's a moment in the Pora case that's just as shocking [as Brendan's] and that's when the detective has Pora out in the field and wants him to identify Susan Burdett's house. And he can't do it because he was never there."

"So the investigator says 'if I show you a house will it help you?' And he points to Susan Burdett's house," he said.

Mr Pora spent more than 20 years in prison for the rape and murder of Susan Burdett before his conviction was quashed by the Privy Council in March 2015.

Mr Drizin said he was so shocked to learn of Mr Pora's case he offered to help his lawyers prepare for the Privy Council case.

He wrote a briefing for them but it was not used in the end.

"The cases are extraordinarily similar. I just hope it doesn't take us as long to right Brendan's wrong as it did to right Teina's."

Tactics used by police to get confessions from adults should not be used on children, teenagers or anyone with intellectual disabilities, he said.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs