I watched Dateline on Friday night and it was about a man accused of murdering his daughter, who was around 12. Now the guy at first adamantly denied the charges (he made over 600 denials) but later admitted to the deed after intense and grueling police interrogation. The DNA found on the poor girl did not match the father and was matched with a sexual predator who had made other attacks on women in the area. The father's testimony and reenactment of his confession was found to be totally inaccurate with the facts of the crime scene and forensic evidence. The leading expert in false confessions determined this was a case of an innocent man falsely admitting to the crime. The prosecution's theory was that the father knew the sexual predator and "arranged" for the murder. The sexual predator said he had never met or knew the father until they were linked together in the case. He said the father was innocent but remained silent on his own involvement.
I relate this utterly sad and horrible story because of the verdict of the jury. Despite all of the evidence proving this father's innocence, they still found him guilty because they could not get around the fact that he admitted his guilt to the crime (a number of times). They believed that an innocent man, especially a father, would go to his grave proclaiming his innocence. They were utterly unable to comprehend how a man could be manipulated or give in to a crime he did not do. This was despite the fact that the police had told the father they had proof he did so and they also "prompted" him in his confession. The jury was simply unable to imagine what the human mind is capable of or what another man can do under horrendous pressure, strain and events.
Dateline asked the false testimony expert about this and he shook his head and said there are numerous cases on the books of innocent people admitting to crimes they didn't commit. It happens. Just because we can't conceive of it, doesn't mean it isn't capable of happening.
I thought about this relating to widowhood. I get so frustrated trying to explain what this life is like and largely I am misunderstood or blown off. I think the prevailing attitude is that widowhood can't be that bad, I'm making more out of it than I should, and I'm too much of a compainer. I've come to the conclusion that my efforts to explain myself, my feelings, frustrations and my life are pretty much in vain - unless I'm talking to another widow/widower. It is beyond the realm of consciousness for people to get me and what I try to describe, especially how drained and tired I have become.
The jury was so stubborn and steadfast in their belief. Because they were unable to comprehend it being any other way. For an innocent man to admit to such a despicable crime doesn't make sense. Therefore, it can't be. They were so rightous, so certain. I felt frightened at the end of the show of how innocent folks do get sent away for crimes they didn't do. Sometimes the innocent are wrongfully punished. I was also scared of how people can come to false determinations based on their own limited knowledge and biases. And I am worried too that there seems to sometimes be a limit as to what the human mind can comprehend and understand. That there can be a lack of compassion and empathy toward others.
I guess I will recall this jury the next time I am met with a wall of resistance when I try and explain some aspect or another of widowhood. Some things are impossible to get unless we have lived them or are living them.