Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wrongly convicted deaf man freed after 20 years

Not the type of stories I usually post, but it was in the newspaper and caught my eye. Thought it was interesting, and wanted to share!

Stephen Matthew Brodie, 39  lost his hearing to meningitis at 18 months, and communicates using ASL. He was convicted of sexually assaulting a five year old girl in 1990. Turns out, he didn't actually do it. The following quote from the article really struck me, and I wonder if this sort of thing still occurs today. It wouldn't surprise me, but it's still upsetting.
"After 18 hours of questioning over eight days – much of it with no sign language interpreter present – Brodie had pleaded guilty[.]"  ADA, anyone?! 

Ironically enough, his deafness was the very thing that led a lawyer to further investigate his case, leading to his freedom. His father wrote a letter to a paralegal, Jena Parker. "Parker said that when she first read the letter from Brodie's father, two things stood out to her: If a deaf person had committed the crime, he would have had no gauge of how loud he was as he went through things in the house; and how did the child victim understand Brodie's instructions when his voice is often unintelligible?" I'm sure someone will manage to find offense with that quote, but it is what ultimately got him released!

Read the article here.


  1. Deaf people are smarter than that if they plan on being sneaky. So I wouldn't jump into those conclusions(as deaf AND DUMB) as a reason for his innocent. I mean, I get told how loud I'm being all the time. So you think I wouldn't know better? There are times I forget, but those are the times I don't care.

    Also, deaf people don't have to talk to get a child to understand them. In fact, I think many criminals use visual communication. If you can signal "come over here" that's all it take.

    But what gets me is no interpreter.So who knows if he is guilty or not. If there's any evidences.

  2. Just reread the post and realized it sounds like I agree with the quote. I don't, and think you have great, valid points. The quotes are clearly said by someone with little experience with deaf people. Yes, many deaf people have a hard time perceiving how loud they are, but I guarantee if they were trying to perform a crime they could figure out a way to do it quietly!

    Anyway, the article says he was ultimately exonerated due to DNA evidence taken after questions were raised about the case.


All comments are screened before approval. I will publish any comment as long as you keep it clean and it's not spam!