Where the Ada Detectives' Smith and Rogers last chance, fully heated interrogation, began in the Kansas City Police Department. Just following Dennis Fritz's arrest, 5 years after the murder of Debbie Sue Carter, detectives, utilizing their Mutt and Jeff tactics, attempting to gain their long sought after confession.
Smith sat silently, his uncomfortable eyes trained on mine.
Rogers suddenly turned from my direct line of vision and walked back across the room. He removed his Stetson hat and set it on top of his closed briefcase. Rolling up his shirt sleeves, as if to tell me it was time to get into the ring, he bluntly said, "We have filed the death penalty on you in a bill of particulars, and we are going to make it stick." Walking closer to me in a cat-like fashion, he persisted by saying, "Did you hear me, Dennis? We have filed the death penalty on you, and we definitely have enough good evidence on you to send you to lethal injection." Stepping nearer to me in breath-close range, he added in a higher-pitched tone, "It took me five whole years but we have got the goods on you, and our evidence is strong.
"Finally, leaning even closer, he repeatedly jabbed his forefinger into my breastbone, over-emphasizing each and every word as his lips spat, "We are going to kill you for what you did, and there is nothing that you can do about it. We have a solid case of murder in the first degree against you, so get it off your chest, Fritz, and be the man we think you are. You need to realize that we have been working in this field for a long time now, and both of us understand how someone might get to drinking and let things get out of control. We know from other cases we've solved that murdering someone in the heat of the moment is a lot easier than someone might think. So get it off your chest, Fritz, and tell us how it really happened.
"Without a flicker of apprehension, I blurted out, I didn't kill anyone, and I don't know anything about what you're talking about. If you want to try to kill me, then go ahead. I'm not scared of anything you can do to me because I am an innocent person!
"The veins in Roger's neck protruded as he roared, "Fritz, we haven't got time for these games and your lies. Make it easy on yourself and confess, right now!""Yes!" I shrieked. "Yes, I will confess at this time.
"Smith bolted from his chair and left the room. There was silence. If a pin had dropped, it would have sounded like a sledgehammer hitting the floor. Rogers waited for Smith to return.
When he came back, he carried a small tape recorder in his porky hands. He hastily set the recorder on the table, plugged it in, and switched it on. His sudden movements were in contrast to his earlier placid performance.
Now it was his turn in the ring as he instructed me: "Dennis, this won't take long, and we can get this all cleared up here in a few minutes. As you have surely guessed, we are here to help you out,and your honesty in the form of a confession will keep you off of death row. Now Dennis, tell us exactly how it happened.
"I looked at the recorder with its wheels spinning silently and then candidly exclaimed to the detectives, "Okay, I'm going to give you my confession. It's the whole truth in every way and I am not going to leave anything out. Here it is: I am an innocent man and have never in my life killed anyone, and furthermore, I am not going to confess to a murder that I didn't do or know nothing about. What do you guys take me for - a complete imbecile?
"Both detectives' faces flushed red. Rogers angrily wrenched his body around and stomped across the room. He snatched up his Stetson, put it on his head, and said with great resentment, "Fritz, we are tired of fooling around with you. You are not funny. If you want to die on the lethal injection table, that is your decision." Turning towards Smith, Rogers remarked with disgust, "If you would like to talk to him any further, then you can stay. I am going back to the hotel and get comfortable while Fritz suffers with these lies.
"Okay, Gary. I'll meet you back at the room in an hour.
"Rogers stormed out.After several minutes, Smith spoke. "Dennis, we don't really believe that you murdered Debbie Carter.
"Because his glare seemed to invite a response, I challenged him by asking, "If you guys don't think I committed the murder, then why have I been charged?
"Smith scooted his chair slightly closer to me as he whispered,"We don't think you were the aggressor in this. We strongly believe that Williamson did the actual killing and was the more aggressive one in the rape and murder. We believe that you were there and Williamson put you in a position to participate in the rape but not the murder. Fritz, I can help you out if you talk to me. As a matter of fact, both Gary and I don't think that you're the kind of guy that would be capable of outright murder. On the other hand , we know that Williamson is. We believe you were there and that is just as bad as you committing the murder yourself. Dennis, we dug up Debbie Carter's body body and what we found proves that you were there and participated in the murder."
"Smith, I've heard enough of your bullshit. I've told you both over and over that I didn't commit no murder, so take me to my cell.I'm not going to put up with your crazy insinuations no more. I am ready to go!.
"Have it your way, Fritz, I really hate to see you fall for a capital murder that you did not fully commit. Will you talk to me tomorrow before we leave?
From pages 37,38,39
"Excerpted from Journey Toward Justice by Dennis Fritz Copyright © 2006 by Seven Locks Press. Excerpted by permission of Seven Locks Press All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.