Federal Court Frees Milwaukee Man, Finds Alleged Confession Violated His Constitutional Rights

Jul 30, 2020

Ladarius Marshall was just 16-years-old when he was accused of murder. Despite little evidence, Marshall was sentenced in May of 2010 to 20 years in prison and 10 years of extended supervision. 

But after years of appeals and serving 12 years in prison, Marshall was set free when a federal court found the main piece of evidence, Marshall’s alleged confession, was the result of police misconduct and a violation of his constitutional rights. Marshall was held for around 15 hours in an interrogation room without representation or a parent present. He repeatedly told police he didn't want to talk to them, but they disregarded him and continued their interrogation. 

"You know, a person has the right during questioning by law enforcement to say to the police officers, ‘Look, I don’t want to talk to you anymore.’ And at that point, if a person says that to police, ‘I don’t want to talk to you,’ ‘I’m done talking here,’ the police are supposed to respect that," says Matthew Pinix, an attorney who represented Marshall in his most recent appeal, which ended with an order to vacate his conviction. 

Beyond his young age, experts also testified that Marshall had cognitive deficits which further impacted his ability to understand and respond to the circumstances of his interrogation. 

The case was held up in appeals for years, until the case was dropped and Marshall was released. But, given the circumstances of his release, Pinix says it's unlikely that Marshall will qualify for aid from the Department of Corrections or the State of Wisconsin. 

"He's 28-years-old now ... He missed the entirety of the Obama Administration, he's walking out into a global pandemic as a man who hasn't held down a job for 12 years, as a man who has no education to speak of absent what he might have obtained in the institution. And he's expected now to just transition to a society that's markedly different from the one he walked out of," says Pinix. 

Marshall is still looking into whether or not he will be able to pursue some compensation for his time in prison, according to Pinix.