On September 29, 1995, a woman was raped in her home in Yakima, Washington. Six months later, on April 1, 1996, Bradford was arrested on an unrelated charge.
The detectives interrogated Bradford for over eight hours and obtained his confession to the crime. Only the last 38 minutes of the interrogation was recorded, after Bradford had finally confessed to the crime he did not commit.
“I don’t know why I confessed”, Bradford said, “I just wanted to be out of that situation. I wish I could take my confession back, but I can’t. The interrogation room was the scariest place: even scarier than all the prisons I had to go to.”
The detectives told Bradford that they were going to get testing orders from the court for biological samples. “They said that the biological material would tell you the truth, and I thought I would be alright because I didn’t commit the crime.”
There were significant inconsistencies in his confession with the narrative of the victim. For example, the victim stated that the perpetrator was 6 feet tall, a very tall man. Bradford is 5 feet 7inches tall. The details of the crime that he provided were also inconsistent with how the crime actually happened. The victim never identified Bradford. There was no evidence other than his confession that connected him to the crime.
Nevertheless, he was tried and convicted in 1996 for a rape and burglary, based on his confession.
Bradford served 9 years in prison, during which he always maintained his innocence. His sister- in-law contacted the Innocence Project Northwest (IPNW) at the University of Washington. His conviction was reversed based on the result of a DNA testing. The DNA on the mask that the perpetrator wore at the time of the crime did not match Bradford’s.
In 2008, Yakima County prosecutors refiled charges against Bradford, but on February 11, 2010, after deliberating for less than five hours, a jury found Bradford not guilty of the first-degree rape and burglary.
Many factors contribute to a false confession during interrogations. It is truly astonishing that regardless of differences in the culture or law, it is one of the major problems in every criminal justice system, and it would happen to anyone in any country.
Watch a short story on Ted Bradford’s case here.