1989 Central Park jogger rape case causes frenzy in media: Part 1

The news that five black and Latino teens had been accused of being involved in the rape and assault of a white woman created a heightened sense of fear and thirst for vengeance in New York City.
10:05 | 05/25/19

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Transcript for 1989 Central Park jogger rape case causes frenzy in media: Part 1
I absolutely loved central park. Central park is like center of the universe kind of. But by the 1980s, this place that was meant to be a central recreation hub for the entire city really becomes more of a barrier. Night would fall, and it would change. It would become a place where you'd be nervous about going. Where in 1989 you must remember that the city was in a real divisive, polarized position. This is part where the central park narrative occurred. Reporter: It became a lightning rod at the inch section of race, class and politics in America. That Wednesday night, it was Easter vacation. Kids would hang out a little later. There was no school until Monday. I seen a group of kids entering the park. At the time I followed. We go from hanging out with friends, thinking that you're going to go skateboarding in the park or walk around late to We just got a call of a disorderly group of 30 to 40 males inside central park, harassing people. We started to get a lot of radio runs of a group of black and hispanic teenagers, assaulting and harassing people. An assault at 102 east drive in central park. I would run to the park, usually entering at the 84th street entrance, just by the metropolitan museum of art. We were getting a lot of 911 calls. They're chasing a large group over there, about 30 to 40 people. A big foot chase. A couple cars come, scooters. When it was all said and done, we had five kids. And at first, it seems like a relatively minor thing. They're going to send these kids to family court. And then this woman is found in the park, covered in blood, near Trish knocked unconscious, barely, barely alive. She actually had been dragged down to the stream in the ravine. The discovery of Trish lying in the ravine changes everything. I have seen traumatized patients many, many times, but I have never seen somebody like destroyed. This is the cheekbone, and this was crushed severely. We all know what rape is. We can all describe it, but there's nothing like seeing something like this, the atrocity of such an act. We ended up with five arrests. Two of the five why Kevin Richardson and Raymond santana. We had to go back out and start getting more of the kids that were involved in the attack. That included Yusef salom. Cory Weiss and antwon Mcray. Reporter: Days of questioning began. Those that are 14 or 15 are supposed to have a parent or guardian present, and largely they do, but I think even the parents are pretty nave about what's going on. And they used us. They used our lack of knowledge of the justice system against us. They were all starting to talk and give stories about what happened. These interrogations are not recorded in any way, no the written down. These are not my rules. These are the rules I was handed. And that's what we played by. I didn't know what was going I wanted to get the hell home. Give me what he wanted. If you take an individual who's 15 years old and put that individual in a room by themselves with two to four to six officers, some of them wanting to attack you, that individual would be terrified. It could be almost tantamount to someone having a gun to your head. All of these kids, and in many cases their parents, believed that they would get to go home if they implicated oh, people, if they were helpful in the right way, and they were desperate to get out of that room. No detective of mine would ever say anything like that. You're going to go home. In a crime like this? Never. They played the parents against each other. They played the boys against each other, and they made up all of these stories to get their arrest and their convinces. How do you coerce somebody when he's sitting there with his it's . Okay? Elizabeth was the prosecutor in the central park jogger case. By all accounts she was incredibly diligent. She was not one of these prosecutors who were just in it to win. In the early morning of the hours of the second day, the teenagers make a fateful decision. They decide to start talking on videotape. This is my first rape. I've never done this before and my last time doing it. Kevin Richardson starts to implicating him self in this night of mayhem. Numerous assaults and possibly the rape of Tricia Miley. I came over there. And it's not just Richardson. Other teenagers are implicating themselves on video, too. All of them except Yusef salom. He never goes on video and never makes a written statement. When I first saw those tapes, I didn't disbelieve them. Like anybody else, when I watch a confession tape, my first impulse is, whoa. An innocent person really wouldn't do that. Was it true? I don't remember saying it. My second impulse is to listen to the details, not to be influenced by them. How did those marks get there? She has a fractured skull. She was hit with a very, very heavy object. You saw that picture. You don't get these lines, you don't get a fractured skull. When you watch Cory, it's almost like he's desperate to get it right. He tells one story this moment, this story at another moment. When you look at false confession cases, when you told them, they're going to change Of course there's going to be inconsistencies between the statements. In my experience, when you take statements, there's kind of a range, right? Reporter: Meanwhile, Tricia Miley is clinging to life in the hospital. She was in a coma for a week. And then she started opening her eyes and looking around. Reporter: Little did she know, she was waking up into a media firestorm. A terror spree through central park. They found her, and they gang raped her. The shockwaves of the tragedy felt both north and south of the park. It took politics, rape, racial politics and controversy. And it contributed to this heightened sense of fear in new York and this first for vengeance. The first trial involved three defendants, Raymond santana, antron Mccrea and Yusef salom. Clearly the statements were the most important evidence. The looks on the jurors' faces when they watched those videotapes told a devastating story for the defense. It's clear, as it has been for a year that prosecutors will depend on videotaped statements by the suspects themselves, but when the defense went on offense this afternoons its strategy also became clear. The teens' lawyers say confessions were cleverly staged. There was a huge problem in this case. And they didn't have DNA evidence against these defendants. They didn't have physical evidence against these defendants. So we, as prosecutors were completely up front with the jury about the fact that semen had been recovered, the jogger, which didn't match any of the three people who were on trial. After ten days of deliberation, the verdict, salom. Santana and Mccrea all convicted of the rape of the jogger. The next trial was Kevin Richardson and Corey Weiss. And once again, the prosecution relied on those confessions. The tape was brutal. Some of the jurors looked like they were having a hard time watching it. In the second trial the jury struggled with Cory Weiss's confessions. There were two statements. They were all over the place. The facts were contradictory, self-contradicted. I didn't believe that he had anything to do with the rape. Cory Weiss's confession didn't make any sense. Several of the jurors kept at me and at me. They pushed me to go to the other direction. And I wish to god I had just hung the jury on that, and that's, that's been my biggest regret for 30 years. Weiss found guilty of sexual abuse, first degree assault and riot. Then with respect to Richardson,

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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