Here is an eye witness to the dead child in the vehicle news story. Analysis of this case is already posted.
Question for Readers: Do you think this witness is a reliable witness for the prosecution?
This is from the Nancy Grace Show.
GRACE: Everyone, breaking news tonight as we learn apparent computer Internet searches by Daddy, Justin Ross Harris, about death of animals in a hot car.
But joining us right now exclusively, Rodney Smith, an eyewitness who sees Daddy remove the baby from the car. Mr. Smith, thank you so much for
being with us. Mr. Smith, what did you observe?
This is a great question. It is open ended, and although it may not appear to be anything special, "What happened?" and "What happened, next?" are the two most important questions an interviewer can initially ask.
These questions should then be followed by questions using the Subject's own language, specifically.
This open ended question allows the subject to begin the answer wherever he chooses, and allows the subject to enter into the Free Editing Process.
The Free Editing Process allows the subject to pick and choose his own words, and allows us to get to the truth.
RODNEY SMITH, WITNESS (via telephone): You know, pretty much when he pulled (ph) from (ph)
the right (ph) -- he parked probably three or four feet behind our store, the actual store that we`re
currently working at, when he got out the car, he just started screaming, What did I do? What
have I done? You know, he just started behaving kind of strangely to me. You know, the behavior was
kind of, you know, suspicious to me.
"You know" shows an awareness of the Interviewer's presence (or the audience). It is a habit of speech. Like all habits of speech, we note what causes it to arise.
"pretty much" reduces commitment and indicates that there is more information.
The account begins with "You know" and the location of where he parked.
Note next that the first pronoun the witness uses for himself is "we", and not "I"
Note the activity of screaming having begun. He did not say "he screamed."
Note the entrance of "me" is not about what he saw, but his editorializing of the account. This should signal to the Interviewer that the witness is enjoying the attention and wants to be viewed as smart, or clever.
GRACE: OK. I don`t understand. If he started screaming, What did I do, what have I done, what is suspicious about that? What did you observe that made you suspicious?
Nancy Grace immediately picks up on the editorializing and although it is compound (TV hosts use far too many words), it is a good question. Tell us what you saw that made you "suspicious", using the subject's own word, "suspicious."
SMITH: Well, when it all started, we was in the -- we was in the store. And one of the employees
came to the side of the store and said, Call the ambulance. I think the boy`s choking. Now, this is
before (INAUDIBLE) comes out (INAUDIBLE) out of the car. And this is just as soon as the father
Now, when he gets out of the car, he starts running around, you know (INAUDIBLE) He -- the boy is
pulled out of the car, and they put him on the
ground and they try to give him CPR, but he wasn`t reviving. But what made it seem so suspicious is
the actions that he took, more like not in shock,
but you know, he was more -- it was more suspicious, you know, putting on a show more than
GRACE: When you say putting on a show, what do you mean by that?
"Putting on a show" violates Analytical Interviewing basic principle by introducing language. This teaches someone how to lie.
SMITH: Putting on a show. More like trying to make something seem that it`s not, or you already
heard of, more than in shock. If my child just died, or if I killed my child, there would be teardrops
coming down. There would be only shock. I wouldn`t know what to do. But the first thing you
should do is try to see what`s really going on, observe the area, pretty much see if the child is still
breathing. He didn`t do none of that. You know, in these situations like this, some people, you know,
(INAUDIBLE) and you got to recuperate yourself and make sure everything`s
in your situation, it goes right, because anything can happen.
First, "putting on a show" is the language of Nancy Grace, not the subject.
This is the kind of witness that defense attorneys love. He is lecturing now, on how he would react and cannot decide if he would have tears, or be in shock. He "wouldn't know what to do" is then refuted by "but."
Note the distancing language he employs.
Note the word "child" is used. "Child" is a signal of risk. It would be interesting to interview him on his background and about his own children. I like to ask,
"Any history of CPS?"
It doesn't always go well with this question, however.
Objection: But "child" is what is being used.
Answer: Correct. Except now he used the possessive pronoun "my", bringing it 'home' and 'personal.'
My first question would be:
Do you have a child of your own?
If he does not, the language is just the language of context and the objection is sustained. If he has a child of his own, we have a different direction for the interview. (lots more information)
Note also, that the first thing "you" should do, is not what he would do. This is an example of distancing language.
Some parents will say, "The first thing I would have done if this was my son would have been to..."
GRACE: Were you there, Mr. Smith, when you saw the child -- when the child was pulled out of the car?
Analytical Interviewing violation: The first question was good, but the second question suggests the answer. Did he see the child in the car? Or, as suggested, when the child was pulled out of the car.
Do not ask compound questions.
Do not ask leading questions.
Do not teach your subject how to answer your questions.
Of course, on television, the host is not seeking information as the primary objective, but to focus upon self. This is how job security works. If the questions are all open ended, and without commentary, it is great for information, but may not get the Interviewer ratings. This is why "tot" is often used, and shill commentators using silly contrarian arguments are brought in: entertainment before information.
The question is "where were you?"
SMITH: Yes, ma`am. It was two gentlemen. I don`t know their name or anything like that. Two
gentlemen, they were trying to give him CPR, but
the boy wasn`t reviving. He wasn`t, you know, coming back or anything like that. That boy looked
like he`d been dead for quite a while.
He didn't answer the question, though this may have been more about him trying to get information out and not listening.
Note that the "child", is not his now, but belonging to the father, he is not "the boy" while being revived, but "that boy" when appearing dead.
The change of language is justified by the context.
"for quite a while" is editorializing. What made you say "for quite a while"? would be my next question. Is he still editorializing, or did he actually see something, instead of a tv report, that he could recognize?
Remember, this witness clearly wants to sound important.
GRACE: He did?
SMITH: Yes, ma`am.
GRACE: Why do you say the boy looked like he`d been dead for quite a while?
SMITH: Well, you know, the (INAUDIBLE) you know, you can only go off what you (INAUDIBLE)
And how the story is playing out now is exactly what
He now reveals information about his own source: story. He seeks to elevate himself to knowing status.
Is he now speaking from memory of what he saw, or...
from "the story" released to the news? Listen carefully to his words:
I thought it was. It wasn`t word for word, but (INAUDIBLE) When he pulled up, he got out the car
like that, then the next step was taking the boy out of the car and trying to revive him.
Note the chronology
looked like he`d been (INAUDIBLE) I didn`t touch the
boy or anything, but just the outlook of it.
Here he reports what he did not do.
The boy looked like he`d been (INAUDIBLE) like, he`s drained, dehydrated.
And pretty much, when me and the other co-workers was sitting out on the curb right in front of the
Note he gives the body posture of himself and others: sitting
Note the change of language, boy, child, back and forth.
child, I was telling them it looked like the boy had been sitting there for quite a while.
A defense attorney would like a witness like this for the prosecution.
GRACE: Well, were you there when the father called the wife on the phone?
SMITH: Yes. That`s when the crowd started coming. That`s after the police came. The police pulled up 10, 15 minutes right after the whole
GRACE: What did he say to his wife on the phone?
SMITH: Well, when he was on the phone he said -- he was explaining what was going on, as in, you know, Our child is dead. And you know, he was -- he was -- he was in a bit of a -- I don`t have a good word for it. But he was -- he was -- he was acting out, pretty much.
Note first he says, "well", which is a pause to think. He needed to think before he spoke, yet he avoided answering the question.
Take this along with the change of language above.
Do you feel he is reliable?
"He was explaining..." No, what did he say?
"our child is dead" is not a quote.
"pretty much" he was "acting out."
The witness does not report what the man said to his wife.
GRACE: What do you mean he was acting out?
SMITH: He was just pretty much -- I can`t -- I can`t get past anything but putting on a show because I know how I would feel. I`ve got a child. He just turned 1 on June the 7th, so I know how I`d feel with the child. And the first thing that I would want to do is to call the police
and try to run my child to the hospital. Those are the first two things, but call the police and ambulance, 911, is the first thing.
None (ph) of those things (INAUDIBLE) what happened with this gentleman. He got out of the car, started screaming. Then he (INAUDIBLE)
taking his child out with another...
By now you are likely questioning, not only the motive of this man, but of the veracity of his statement.
Note "I can't, I can't"
GRACE: ... that you heard the police say to him, You better watch what you`re saying?
SMITH: You better watch what you`re saying because I don`t know exactly what he said to make the -- to trigger the police officer to say that. But whatever he said, they said, You need to watch what you`re saying. And shortly, probably, like, not even 20 seconds after that,
(INAUDIBLE) produced the handcuffs.
GRACE: Well, let me ask you this. Was he pulling on a tree?
SMITH: Yes, ma`am. The tree bushes. It was probably, like, two or three feet, maybe four, even, from where the boy was actually laying. He
was just going in a circle around me and two other individuals. And he was pretty much saying, What did I do? My son is dead. I can`t believe this.
You know, What did I do?
And he was pulling on the tree branches, which that`s what made me come to realize he was pretty much...
GRACE: Well, you also said he was walking in circles, and then he would get louder and louder when people would get close to him, saying,
What did I do? My child is dead. He would walk in bigger and bigger circles and pull on the tree branches?
terrible leading question...
SMITH: Yes, ma`am.