The lives of Escondido, California residents Cheryl and Stephen Crowe change one morning when they find their twelve year old daughter Stephanie Crowe stabbed to death in her bedroom. As ...
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The lives of Escondido, California residents Cheryl and Stephen Crowe change one morning when they find their twelve year old daughter Stephanie Crowe stabbed to death in her bedroom. As procedure dictates, the police take each member of the household away individually to be questioned, and the remaining children - fourteen year old Michael Crowe and adolescent Shannon Crowe - are taken into protective custody until Cheryl and Stephen can be cleared. The police end up placing much of their focus on the sullen Michael, who they question without counsel and without discussion with his parents. The tone of the police questioning is that they believe Michael did kill his sister, the police lying, harassing and coercing in the process. Under the barrage of questioning, Michael eventually confesses, as do two of his friends, both questioned under the same threatening tone. Cheryl and Stephen, who are finally made aware of the questioning and the confessions, enlist the help of sympathetic ... Written by
This dramatization is based on the factual documentary previously created for Court TV by co-writer/producer/directors Marc Wallace and Jonathan Greene. Their documentary, with same title, was awarded the Alfred I. duPont/Columbia University Silver Baton for excellence in broadcast journalism in January, 2002. See more »
Don't misunderstand my title. This isn't a horror movie - at least not in the sense of genre. But it is a truly frightening true story about the abuse of police power.
Basically, the story is quite simple. 12 year old Stephanie Crowe is brutally murdered in her own home in Escondido, California while her family sleeps. Without any real evidence, the police decide that her 14 year old brother Michael must be guilty, they ignore evidence pointing to another suspect and they coerce a confession from him after two days of non-stop questioning, filled with lies about what they supposedly "know," threats if he won't confess and promises of help if he will. Young Michael then becomes the object of a relentless prosecution by the District Attorney, who finally admits that there is no direct evidence but won't give up the case, instead dismissing it "without prejudice," thus leaving possible future prosecution hanging over Michael's head, and leaving the viewer wondering what's going to happen to this boy, until the final decision is revealed at the end.
This is truly an excellent, gripping movie. It takes a bit of getting into in the first few minutes, but once you're into it you're definitely hooked. Superb performances come from Ally Sheedy and Michael Riley as Michael's parents and - I'll use the phrase again - there's a positively frightening performance from John Bourgeois as Detective Claytor. Not to be overlooked is young Mark Rendall's performance as Michael. He brilliantly portrayed the fear and hopelessness this young boy must have felt. At times I thought he came across as a bit too mature in his portrayal, but, then again, maybe that was Michael.
This isn't a particularly well known movie, but everyone should see it.
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