Psychologist Casts Doubt on Confession of Accused Murderer of ASU Professor

MAY 6, 2004 - Posted at 7:45 a.m. CDT

STUTTGART, AR - A child psychologist has testified that a Stuttgart teenager may not have been truthful when he confessed to the murder of an Arkansas State University professor.

Psychologist Christopher Lance of Little Rock said Otis Kirk, who was 14 when Barney Smith was robbed and shot dead, may have given a false confession.

Kirk is now 17 and is charged with capital murder.  The judge in the case barred the death penalty.

Lance's testimony came a day after prosecutors rested their case by playing a tape of a confession Kirk gave to investigators.  In another interview with investigators, Kirk said he was not the one who shot Smith.

Lance said he conducted a two-hour examination of Kirk.  He pointed to Kirk's borderline mental retardation as a possible reason for a false confession.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)