Statement Analysis®

Michael Carson's Interview

In August of 1993, 16-year-old Michael Carson was incarcerated at the Craighead County Detention Center in Jonesboro, Arkansas. He was at the detention facility facing a burglary charge. Also incarcerated at the same facility was Jason Baldwin. During the five days Carson was at the facility he claims he befriended Baldwin and Baldwin confessed to him that he murdered the three boys.

Carson would wait several months before coming forward with this information. He was interviewed by the police on February 1, 1994 three days before Baldwin and Echols went on trial. Carson testified at the trial for the prosecution. Here are some excerpts from Carson's interview.

Carson is talking about playing cards with Jason Baldwin and several other inmates. One of the other inmates is also named Jason.

Question:       Tell me what happened next. 
Carson:         Well, we was all sitting there, there was teaching me how. I was gettin 
                confused and stuff so we was all laughing last night and then I sat there,
                we sat there and talked and they was talking about Jason and his trial and 
                everybody's talking about what time they were going to get out, when they were 
                going to go to court, and I turned to Jason and said, did you really do it? 
                Straight out just like that in front of Jason and Beddle and he denied it the 
                very first time I ask him. 

The card game they were playing was spades. Earlier in the interview Carson stated he did not know how to play spades so the other inmates were teaching him the game. In this portion of his interview he states, "there was teaching me how." I looked at the copy of the officer's notes and the word "there" is written down and not "they." It appears Carson did not say "they was teaching me" but said "there was teaching me." He also did not finish his sentence which is further evidence he is not committed to his statement. What were they teaching him?

He states, "We was all laughing last night." He is talking about an event that happened over five months ago. Why is he talking about "last night"? He may have meant to say "We was all laughing that night." However, according to the officer's notes he used the word "last." He goes on to say, "and then I sat there, we sat there and talked." He changes his pronouns from "I" to "we." These first two sentences indicate his story may not be coming form memory.

In talking to Jason, he states "and I turned to Jason." This does not sound natural. It sounds as if he is telling a story and is focused on every little detail. Most people would probably say "and I asked Jason." He states that Jason denied it the "very first time." When a person is recalling an event he should be speaking as if he is reliving the event. A person should not say the "first time" since at that moment he would not have known if there would be a second time. This again indicates his story may not be coming from memory. We see further evidence of this when he used the present tense verb "ask" and not the past tense verb "asked."

Question:       Okay, so he denied it the first time. 
Carson:         The first time. 
Question:       Alright. Okay. Huh, when did you, how long was it before you had another 
                conversation with Jason Baldwin after that first day that yall played spades 
Carson:         The next day 
Question:       Okay. The next day, tell me what happened. 
Carson:         Well, we was sitting there, we just fixing, we's after... 
Question:       That's okay. 
Carson:         Well, we was sitting there playing spades and then the officer comes over the 
                intercom and tells us to get in our cells, because she's fixing to bring lunch 
                in and so me and Jason was sittin there scraping up some cards and I turned to 
                him and said, "between me and you, did you really do it"? And he said, "Yes, I 
                did do it" and he started giving me the gory details. 
Question:       Okay. Are you saying he didn't get into any gory details or he did? 
Carson:         He did. 

When asked to tell what happened the next day, Carson appears to stumble in his language. It is hard to tell what was going on. Perhaps he got a tickle in his throat and started coughing. Then again, maybe was he trying to think about what to say.

When answering the question he again uses present tense language - "comes" and "tells." Again, he is very detailed in stating, "I turned to him." He also used the word "started." This means the act was interrupted and not finished. This is probably why the officer asked him if Jason did or did not get into any gory details. A stronger statement would have been "and he gave me the gory details."

Question:      Okay, and this is the next day? 
Carson:        Yeah. 
Question:      Okay. Tell me, what kind of gory details did he get into? 
Carson:        He was saying like, okay, dismembered them, and sucking the blood out of their 
               scrotums and playing with there balls in his mouth and stuff like that. 
Question:      Okay, did he say how many of the, how many balls, or, scrotums, or huh, whatever,
               penis's that they played with? 
Carson:        No. 
Question:      Tell me what else he told you. 
Carson:        I, it's been awhile, so all I pretty much remember is scrotums, playing with the penis,
               and putting their, kids balls in his mouth. 
Question:      Okay. 
Carson:        When he mentioned that, that was pretty much the end of it. I laid my hands on the table
               and I jumped back and I left him sitting at the table, left him with the cards, and I 
               went to my cell. 

He again uses present tense language with the words "sucking," "playing" and "putting" which indicates his story may not be coming from memory. Later in the interview he will state, "He played with their penis's, sucked the blood out of their scrotums." Here he uses past tense language. It appears he knows how to use the correct verb tense. So, why does he use present tense language if he is recalling an event?

When asked what else Jason had told him, he starts out using the pronoun "I" but then switches to "it's been a while." It may be that he was going to say "I don't remember" but then realized that is not true so he changed it to "all I pretty much remember." The words "pretty much" are qualifying words. This indicates he may remember more. He uses these words again when referring to the end of their conversation.

His statement, "I laid my hand on the table" does not sound natural. It is too detailed as if he is writing a novel.


Carson's language indicates he is not speaking from memory. It sounds as if he is telling a story rather then recalling what happened. Even though he said Jason gave him the "gory details" he does not provide the officer with very many details. He claims he does not remember what was said in their short conversation.

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