Polygrapher admits test was a ruse

August 17, 2002

MIAMI (AP) - A polygraph examiner has admitted he broke the rules of his profession during a February undercover investigation into the 1990 murder of a policeman.

Broward County sheriff's polygrapher Richard Hoffman testified he was ordered to perform the lie detector test as a ruse, didn't ask required control questions and wrote a misleading report on test subject Andrew Johnson. The report showed Johnson was being deceptive when he said he never shot a deputy.

Johnson had emerged as a suspect in the Nov. 13, 1990, slaying of Deputy Patrick Behan - a murder for which a 26-year-old retarded man is serving a life term in prison.

Testifying on the final day of hearing seeking a new hearing for convicted killer Timothy Brown, Hoffman admitted last week that he violated the standards of the Florida Polygraph Association.

``This test should not ever have been run,'' he said. ``The test is worthless. The report is worthless.''

Johnson had already told undercover officers in videotaped sessions that he killed Behan. He later retracted the statements.

Johnson was summoned to sheriff's headquarters on the pretense of a pre-employment interview but was asked about the killing in a six-hour session last February.

Attorneys for Brown claim Johnson was the real killer all along, and that he had stalked and discussed killing another deputy who got him fired as a jail guard. Behan was filling that deputy's shift the night he was killed.

Polygraph experts were appalled at Hoffman's admission.

``This is the kind of thing that happens frequently,'' said James Matte, the author of three textbooks on polygraphy. ``The wrong examiner with the wrong test ends up in court and gives us a black eye.''

Howard Temple, an Old Bridge, N.J., polygraph examiner for more than 30 years, rejected the conditions under which Johnson was tested.

``It was basically an interrogation while the guy was hooked up to a polygraph.'' Temple said.

U.S. District Judge Donald Graham is expected to rule this month on Brown's claim of innocence, and the state Department of Law Enforcement is looking into the Behan case on orders from Gov. Jeb Bush.
 

Junk Science
Police/Prosecutor Misconduct