Arthur

Due to the fact that Arthur was under 12 years old at the time of the trial, a hearing was conducted to assess his competency to testify under oath. Many of his responses to the questions posed by the judge raised serious doubts regarding this. For example, when asked what he was learning about in history class, the boy  responded, “The Civil War.”

(Q) “Do you have books on the Civil War?
(A) Yes.
(Q) Or is it the same history book for all history subjects?
(A) All history subjects.
(Q) That’s the same book?
(A) Yes.
(Q) What’s the name of that book?
(A) ‘The Civil War’.”

Clearly, this makes no sense. A book that covers all history subjects obviously would not be entitled, “The Civil War.” Although he clearly didn’t understand the question, he nevertheless went ahead and provided what he believed to be a plausible — or desired — answer.

He also claimed to have read “four or five” Harry Potter books. Yet, according to Investigator DeFrancesco’s deposition based on the first interview of Arthur in August of 2000, “[the boy] was asked if he could read and he said "no." Therefore at trial, which was less than ten months after that, Arthur claims to have read “four or five” Harry Potter books totaling several thousand pages of rather challenging reading.

When asked to name some of the characters in them, he responded: “Mr. Harry Potter, Mrs. — the two kids I forget, the cat, the cat’s name. I forgot his name.” It is simply unbelievable that, if indeed he had read these books, he would only be able to name the title character. Moreover, the one character he does name, a 12-year-old boy, does not have the title, “Mr.” (And the cat, whom he refers to as male is, in fact, female.) Judge Czajka continued to probe for some actual details about these books:

(Q) “How about do you recall any of the people’s names at the school?
(A) School?
(Q) What’s the name of the school?
(A) The Academy.
(Q) Harry Potter’s, what’s the name of the school in —
(A) The Brook* School.”

“The Academy” is incorrect — the answer is “Hogwarts.” The Brook* School is actually the name of the school that Arthur himself attended.
[* Name of school changed to protect Arthur’s identity.] But what is most revealing about this exchange is that when the same question is asked a second time, Arthur changes his answer, in an obvious effort to tell his questioner what he thinks he wants to hear. One can only imagine how many times Arthur’s answers to investigators’ questions changed before he finally provided the “right” ones. The judge then asks:

(Q) “Who are your teachers?
(A) Laurie, Anne, and Mary. [Names changed for confidentiality.]
(Q) Do they teach you all the same subjects or does each have a special subject to teach?
(A) They all teach us one, they all teach the same subject.
(Q) At the same time?
(A) Yes.”

This doesn’t make any sense either. No elementary school has three teachers all teaching the same subject. Clearly, Arthur did not understand this question either. But rather than say he didn’t understand it, he simply blurted out what he thought was the desired answer.

Despite all of the above, Judge Czajka found Arthur to be competent to testify under oath.

Later, during the actual trial portion, Arthur admitted that he had trouble telling the difference between dreams and real life. One time, shortly before being approached by police investigating this case, “A” informed his social worker that a friend of Nickel’s had slapped him. Later, he told this same social worker that this actually had not happened, and that he might have “dreamed it up.” Another time, he thought — and told others — that Nickel had given him a motorcycle, only to realize later on that that also was untrue.

On cross-examination, “A” explained that he was taking four psychiatric medications: Adderall, Clonidine, Ritalin, and Zoloft.

See Suggestibility.

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