'It wasn't me' - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

'It wasn't me'

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Three men are now suspects in high profile murder cases but before they were charged, they ran their mouths to the media. One of the men lied about police statements, and some cried on camera and proclaimed their innocence.

So just how badly can these on-camera statements hurt their cases?
For many of them, it's about attention and distracting people from the trail. The psychologist FOX13 News spoke with says many people also think they're really good liars and they won't get caught. Some even convince themselves of the story they made up and turn to the media to try to convince thousands of people. If they can get the reporter to believe them, some may believe the audience will too, and bottom line, that they can get away with the crime.

The problem is, the prosecution can use the defendants' on-camera statements against them, more specifically, they can be used to impeach a client if their statement changes. What happens if the defendant testifies?  A jury knows they've had a couple years since the crime to clean up their story, and explain any holes in it.

Criminal attorney Art Horne says media interviews with defendants can be a lawyer's worst nightmare.  

BOFTA YIMAM:  On a scale of 1-10 how much does it hurt your case when they go on-camera with the media?

ART HORNE: I would say an 8; very rarely does it help.  You don't want the case to be a tried in the media, particularly if it's going to be a high profile case and you just don't want them to go on, go on television, make a statement and if it's not detailed it can be used against them and if it's too detailed it can be used against them.

BOFTA YIMAM:  Is it rare that you win those cases?

ART HORNE: Take Janis Fullilove, she likes the camera.  She's given several interviews about this past case and it worked out in her favor.

BOFTA YIMAM:  What about accused killers?

ART HORNE:  That's a little different.

Horne says a settlement is more likely in these cases, since the defendant's statements to the media and court, could be contradictory. Now, there is an exception, he says he encourages certain clients after they're identified as suspects, to make public statements.  That's typically for damage control when he feels the media coverage is one-sided.

So what's up with the tears some of them pour out on camera? Is the breakdown real?

What some see unfolding on TV, is the release of pent-up feelings. Psychologist Dr. Amy Beebe says some hope those tears will pull your heart strings, get sympathy, and maybe even good will and some money in their pockets.

It may dawn on them they're going to down for this and use tears to get fame and fortune.  The emotion could be a mixture of guilt, the realization they killed someone and could face life in prison, and then maybe remorse, too. If they don't have much of a criminal past, the crime could be a serious burden on the shoulders for someone to carry around.  

Dr. Beebe says those who are innocent typically don't seek out media attention, or feel the need to proclaim they're innocent.

"I do want to point out, none of these men have been convicted, but they were charged within days of their media interviews," she said.

With all the media attention, could this taint a jury pool, making it more difficult to find jury members?  Unless it's a national case, Horne says that's not typically a problem.  He says many people don't watch local news or read the papers.  Plus, it's typically a couple years before the case goes to trial so it's not fresh in their minds.

UPDATE: Palumbo-Jones' body wrapped in air mattress: http://www.myfoxmemphis.com/story/22199127/palumbo-jones-body-wrapped-in-air-mattress

MORE: Judge orders mental evaluation for murder suspect: http://www.myfoxmemphis.com/story/22136374/judge-orders-mental-evaluation-for-murder-suspect

MORE: FBI outlines case against ricin suspect: http://www.myfoxmemphis.com/story/22146634/fbi-outlines-case-against-ricin-suspect

MORE: Body Of small child found in dumpster: http://www.myfoxmemphis.com/story/18944167/body-found-in-dumpster

MORE: Father charged with son's death: http://www.myfoxmemphis.com/story/18968649/father-charged-with-sons-death

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