CSI on Trial: False Confessions

The interrogation of a prime suspect becomes the most important piece of evidence in most criminal investigations. In the investigation of the murder of Wayne and Sharmon Stock police zeroed in on a suspect, a nephew named Matt Livers, and got a confession. It happened even though none of the evidence linked him to the crimes.

What led an innocent man to confess to murder? Matt Livers was developmentally disabled; someone in the bottom one or two percent of adults in terms of intellectual functioning. Detectives knew this but proceeded with an aggressive interrogation style that ultimately broke down Livers’ defenses. In the process he implicated another man, Nick Sampson, who also had no connection to the Stock’s murder.


Read the summary of the interrogations written by Cass County Sheriff’s investigator Earl Schenk. The report includes no mention of conflicts between Livers version of the killings and the evidence already gathered by the crime scene investigators.

In this report, Investigator Schenk reports talking to the suspect the next day, but fails to include that Livers had recanted his confession and again denied his involvement.

Video Clips

Immediately after the Nebraska State Patrol’s polygraph examiner claimed Matt Livers showed signs of deception, the interview... more››
On a number of occasions the investigators brought up the death penalty, a tactic discouraged in most law enforcement agencies.... more››
Late in the afternoon, and after Livers has denied involvement in the murder more than 80 times, Investigator Schenk changes his... more››
The next day, Livers recants his entire confession to State Patrol polygraph examiner Charles O’Callaghan. Livers is not given... more››
Forensic Psychologist Scott Bresler felt Matt Livers confession was coerced by police investigators after he reviewed video for... more››
Retired Nebraska State Patrol profiler Gary Plank reviewed the confession for the Cass County prosecutor and also felt the... more››