Polygraph Operator Ken Blackstone Pleads Guilty to Perjury

Ken Blackstone
Ken Blackstone

Georgia polygraph operator Ken Blackstone has pleaded guilty to a single count of perjury, a felony punishable by one to ten years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $1,000 under Georgia state law. Blackstone committed perjury by falsely claiming during a court hearing that another polygraph examiner, Charles Slupski, had reviewed the charts of a polygraph examination that Blackstone conducted on Guy Heinze Jr., who was charged with, and has since been convicted for, eight murders and one attempted murder. Blackstone was sentenced to five years’ probation and a $1,000 fine.

Florida Times-Union reporter Terry Dickson writes:

Polygraph examiner pleads guilty to lying in Guy Heinze Jr. hearing
Kenneth Blackstone sentenced to 5 years probation, gets 2-year ban on criminal trial testimony

By Terry Dickson Fri, Oct 10, 2014 @ 8:42 pm

BRUNSWICK | A polygraph examiner pleaded guilty to perjury Friday for testifying falsely under oath in the Guy Heinze Jr. murder case.

Kenneth Blackstone, 63, of Stone Mountain pleaded guilty Friday to a single count of perjury over his testimony on July 18, 2013, in a motions hearing in Heinze’s case, District Attorney Jackie Johnson said in a release.

Superior Court Judge Roger Lane accepted Blackstone’s plea under Georgia’s First Offender Act, sentenced him to five years to be served on probation and ordered him to pay a $1,000 fine, Johnson said.

Lane also banished Blackstone from the 5-county Brunswick Judicial Circuit and ordered him not to testify in any criminal proceedings in court for two years, Johnson said.

In the motions hearing, Blackstone said he had administered a polygraph to Heinze in which Heinze said he had not killed his father, Guy Heinze Sr., his father’s friend, Russell Toler Sr., Toler’s four children and sister and the boyfriend of Toler’s eldest daughter. It was Heinze Jr. who made the 911 call on Aug. 29, 2009 in which he told an operator he had come home to find his whole family “beat to death.”

One person survived the beating. Byron Jimerson Jr., the then 3-year-old son of Chrissy Toler recovered from a severe head injury.

Blackstone, who was hired by Heinze’s defense team, testified that the test indicated the Heinze was not being deceptive when he said he had not killed the eight victims.

When Assistant District Attorney John B. Johnson III questioned Blackstone about his methods, Blackstone said he had sent the charts from the polygraph exam to Charles “Chuck” Slupski, an independent expert in polygraph examination methods. The state had its own expert, retired Georgia Bureau of Investigation special agent Jerry Rowe who told prosecutors that Slupski had been out of the country at the time and said he had not spoken with Blackstone about the Heinze examination.

Confronted with Slupski’s statement, Blackstone said something to the effect he had been caught.

Polygraph exams are not admissible as evidence but Heinze’s lawyers had intended to use the results as mitigation during sentencing if Heinze had been found guilty later. The defense withdrew the motion and a Glynn County grand jury later indicted Blackstone for perjury.

Heinze was found guilty in November of all eight murders and the attempted murder of Byron Jimerson and is serving life in prison.

Terry Dickson: (912) 264-0405

As of the time of this writing, Blackstone remains listed as a member in good standing of the American Polygraph Association, the Georgia Polygraph Association, and the Florida Polygraph Association.

Update (17 Oct. 2014): Ken Blackstone’s profile page on the American Polygraph Association member directory has been deleted.

Polygraph Operator Ken Blackstone Under Investigation for Perjury

Ken Blackstone
Ken Blackstone

Terry Dickson reports for the Florida Times-Union that polygraph operator Kenneth E. Blackstone of Atlanta, Georgia is under investigation for perjury in connection with a death penalty murder case:

Guy Heinze Jr.’s polygraph examiner under investigation for truthfulness in court
Posted: July 18, 2013 – 9:01pm  |  Updated: July 18, 2013 – 9:14pm

By Terry Dickson

BRUNSWICK | A polygraph examiner who testified on Thursday in Guy Heinze Jr.’s death penalty murder case is himself the subject of a perjury investigation, an official said.

Testifying in a motions hearing, Kenneth E. Blackstone said Heinze showed no deception in saying that he had not killed his father and seven others in a mobile home on Aug. 29, 2009.

Blackstone said he asked Heinze three relevant questions: Did he physically assault anyone in the trailer, did he assault any of his family members in the trailer and did he cause the deaths of his family members?

Heinze answered no to all three questions, and the polygraph showed no deception, Blackstone said.

It was during District Attorney Jackie Johnson’s examination, however, that Blackstone got into trouble. When Johnson asked Blackstone if he had undertaken any quality control measures to ensure his findings were correct, Blackstone said at first he had reviewed it himself.

He said later, however, that about two weeks ago he had shown it to Chuck Slupski, who operates a polygraph examiners’ school in the Atlanta area.

He had shown the polygraph charts without Heinze’s identity to Slupski, Blackstone said.

“He said there was no deception,” Blackstone said.

Johnson then asked Blackstone if he was aware that Slupski was out of the country and had been in South Africa during the two-week time frame. Blackstone responded he may have shown the charts to Slupski earlier.

Johnson had intended to call Jerry Rowe, the director of polygraph for the Department of Juvenile Justice, as a witness to rebut Blackstone’s testimony after court reconvened after lunch, but it never got that far.

Heinze’s defense lawyer, Newell Hamilton Jr., withdrew his motion to have Heinze’s polygraph results used as evidence during the sentencing phase of the trial, should Heinze be found guilty.

Rowe said he had spoken with Slupski, who said he had not seen Heinze’s polygraph results nor talked with Blackstone about them. Slupski was willing to come to court and testify if necessary, Rowe said.

‘CAUGHT ME IN A LIE’

Greg McMichael, Johnson’s chief investigator, said he will conduct an investigation on whether Blackstone testified falsely.

Rowe, a retired Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent, said Blackstone’s examination would have been easy to refute because he didn’t use a necessary tool, a motion sensor in the chair of the person being examined. The movement sensor can detect when a person is tightening the sphincter muscles or doing other things to try to fool the test or reacting, Rowe said.

When Johnson asked Blackstone why he hadn’t used a motion sensor, he called them worthless and said they are used only in evidentiary examinations.

Johnson referred Blackstone to a section of the bylaws for professional polygraphers which says “a motion sensor is used in all cases.”

“You caught me in a lie,’’ Blackstone said. “I didn’t know that was in there.”

He then said he would always use the sensors in the future.

Outside the courtroom, Rowe said the motion sensors are essential.

“You’ve got to have the movement sensors, or the polygraph is no good,’’ Rowe said. “It’s for the person [under examination], too.”

Blackstone also erred in his choice of non-relevant questions on which he had Heinze purposely lie to show bodily responses to deception, Rowe said.

Blackstone posed questions on drug use to Heinze, an admitted drug user, so those responses would have contaminated the results, Rowe said.

There were also some glimpses of the case against Heinze in Johnson’s cross-examination of Blackstone, who had said he had familiarized himself with the crime scene and some of the evidence. She asked Blackstone if he was aware that Heinze’s bloody palm print was found beside the body of a victim or if he knew that drugs belonging to one of the victims were found in the console of the car Heinze was driving.

The drugs belonged to Michael Toler, 19, who was still alive the morning of Aug. 29 when Heinze called 911 and said he had found his whole family beaten to death. Toler, who had Down syndrome, died the next day.

The others killed in the mobile home at Good Hope Mobile Home Park were Guy Heinze Sr., 45; his close friend, Russell “Rusty” D. Toler Sr., 44; Toler’s children, Russell Toler Jr., 20, Chrissy Toler, 22, and Michelle Toler, 15; Rusty Toler’s sister Brenda Gail Falagan, 49; and Chrissy Toler’s boyfriend, Joseph L. West Jr., 30. Michael Toler was also Rusty Toler’s son.

Chrissy Toler’s son, Byron Jimerson, now 7, recovered from a severe head injury.

Until Thursday, jury selection for the trial was to begin in late September and the trial itself in October. Presiding Judge Stephen Scarlett met with Johnson and Hamilton after the hearing on scheduling, and the dates might change.

Terry Dickson: (912) 264-0405

Blackstone specializes in polygraph screening of convicted sex offenders and is the author of a book titled, Polygraph, Sex Offenders, and the Court: What Professionals Should Know About Polygraph… And a Lot More.

Duluth, Georgia Police Chief Wrong on Polygraph Videotaping

Acting on his lawyer’s advice, John Mason, whose fiancee Jennifer Carol Wilbanks went missing on Tuesday, 26 April, agreed to submit to a police-administered polygraph examination on the condition that it 1) take place in a “neutral” location and 2) be videotaped. While Duluth police reportedly can agree to the first condition, Police Chief Randy Belcher would not consent to videotaping, claiming that no agency “that’s worth anything” would videotape a polygraph examination.

However, there is no compelling reason why polygraph examinations should not be videorecorded. The U.S. Department of Energy routinely videotapes polygraph examinations, and major polygraph manufacturers such as Stoelting and Lafayette are producing computerized polygraph instruments that work with inexpensive, off-the-shelf webcams. Videorecording is an unobtrusive safeguard that ensures there will be an objective record of what was actually said and done during a polygraph interrogation. Why would a law enforcement agency acting in good faith refuse such a reasonable request?

For recent news coverage of the Wilbanks investigation, see:

For relevant discussion, see the AntiPolygraph.org message board threads, Run away, run far far away and Audio/Video Taping of Polygraph Examinations.

Update 25 March 2021: No harm had befallen Jennifer Carol Wilbanks. She ran away to avoid her wedding.

“Florida Terror-Alert Students Refuse Lie Tests”

NewsMax.com reports. Excerpt:

Three Muslim medical students who were stopped by police on Friday and interrogated for 17-hours after allegedly making jokes and threats related to the 9/11 anniversary have declined to take lie detector tests to back up their denials.

The refusal came after their accuser, Georgia resident Eunice Stone, said she’d be willing to submit to a lie test to prove her story, challenging them to do the same.

“While the young men were willing to take a polygraph … we didn’t want them to take a polygraph at this time,” said the students’ lawyer, Khummar Wahid, in an interview Tuesday night on MSNBC’s “Phil Donahue Show.”

“There’s some scientific problems with taking a polygraph,” complained Wahid, who is part of a legal team representing the three students assembled by the Council on American Islamic Relations.

Wahid said he also feared the test may be used as evidence against his clients, explaining, “At this time we’re not 100 percent confident that the FDLE or Georgia or the FBI won’t be in some way trying to file some sort of criminal charges here.”

Khummar Wahid is absolutely right in counseling his clients to refuse to submit to any lie detector “test.” If you are ever suspected of a crime — whether innocent or guilty — it would be wise for you to refuse to submit. The “test” is a fraud that has no scientific basis whatsoever. “Passing” will not necessarily clear you of suspicion, while “failing” one of these pseudoscientific “tests” is highly prejudicial.

“Justice Agency Accused of Rights Violations”

Augusta (Georgia) Chronicle staff writer Johnny Edwards reports. Excerpt:

The Atlanta chapter of the Service Employees International Union, which covers state employees, is accusing the Department of Juvenile Justice of using polygraph tests to muzzle Augusta workers and possibly violating their First Amendment rights.

Guards and nurses at the Augusta Youth Development Campus who have spoken out in recent months haven’t had nice things to say about the facility for incarcerated teens.

Speaking both publicly and anonymously, they have told of unfair working conditions for black workers, policy violations, sex between boys in custody and allegations of rape and abuse.

Now reports have seeped out that the administration is using lie detector tests to find out who’s been talking to the media and how The Augusta Chronicle obtained incident reports and medical documents backing up employees’ accounts.

“The spotlight was on the department, but once the cameras are off, they go back to what they were doing, which is to harass and intimidate,” said Ralph Williams, the president of Local 1985 of the union.

Mr. Williams said polygraphs are used to discredit and demean employees. The tests, administered by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, can be a scarlet letter on a worker once they’re over, he said.

Union representatives will be in the parking lot of the facility off Mike Padgett Highway today interviewing workers as their shifts end, Mr. Williams said. Preparing for litigation, the union wants to know how many people have been given lie detector tests and whether anyone has been harassed for speaking out about working conditions.

An attorney for the union sent a letter last week to Mike Sorrells, the deputy commissioner of human resources. The letter accused the department of retaliating against employees for speaking out on workplace conditions by requiring them to take polygraph tests, changing their work shifts or threatening the loss of their jobs if the Augusta YDC becomes privatized because employees can’t get along.

“Glynn County Police Like Voice Stress Lie Detector; Others Not So Sure

The Associated Press reports on Glynn County, Georgia’s use of and professed belief in “Computer Voice Stress Analysis” (CVSA). Excerpt:

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — Glynn County police have become true believers in a new sort of lie detector that analyzes stress in a suspect’s voice, but other police departments are not convinced.

The Computer Voice Stress Analyzer helped snare William David Tatro, who was convicted earlier this month for killing his wife and burying her in a garden in his front yard.

Tatro initially told police two different versions of what happened to his wife, Yukie Tatro.

Glynn police Sgt. Chip Anderson said Tatro first told them he “didn’t know where his wife was, that she (had) driven away in her car.” He then agreed to answer questions about her disappearance on the voice stress test.

“Mr. Tatro changed his story after we confronted him with results of his voice stress test, which showed that he had been deceptive in his statements about her disappearance. That’s when he told us that he killed her accidentally,” Anderson said.

Yukie Tatro’s decomposed body was found Oct. 5, 2000. William David Tatro is awaiting sentencing.

Jurors never heard any testimony about the voice stress test, but Anderson said it was “an important tool” leading investigators to Yukie Tatro’s body and her killer.

“It bolstered our feeling that (William Tatro) knew more about her disappearance than he was saying, and it showed us that we were going in the right direction with our investigation,” Anderson said.

About 1,200 law enforcement agencies nationwide use the voice stress test, including 38 in Georgia and 124 in Florida.

The instrument uses a special computer program to detect, measure and analyze the micro-frequency modulations in a person’s voice. The frequency changes can be used to determine lying or truthfulness, police said.

But neither voice stress analysis, nor the more traditional polygraph tests are admissible in court as evidence in Georgia, Florida or federal courts, authorities said.

Glynn County public defender Timothy Barton said the analyzer shouldn’t be used as evidence because, like a polygraph, it hasn’t been proved scientifically accurate.

“It’s a crude tool, but it’s a tool. I’ve got no problem with it as an investigative tool, as long as the police don’t use it to trick people,” Barton said. “We want the truth as much as the police do. If it helps get at the truth then I’m for it.”

While Glynn County public defender Timothy Barton has no problem with the use of CVSA as an “investigative tool, as long as the police don’t use it to trick people,” that is precisely how CVSA (like polygraphy) is used–as an interrogation tactic to trick suspects into believing that they have been caught in a lie, and to convince them that it is in their best interest to confess. Neither polygraphy nor CVSA has any scientific basis, and no reliance should be placed on the outcome of such “tests.”

“Woman Wins Suit Over False Arrest”

Staff writer Jim Houston of the Columbus, Georgia Ledger-Enquirer reports on a lawsuit brought by a woman who was arrested by her employer after failing a polygraph “test.” Excerpt:

A Phenix City woman whose ex-employer swore out a warrant charging her with theft won a $90,000 verdict Wednesday from a Muscogee County Superior Court jury.

Maria Chavez sued Earl Allen, owner of Coqui Videos, for false arrest after Allen had her arrested June 14, 1999. Allen took out a warrant accusing Chavez of stealing about $6,000 from his business May 28, 1999. Chavez was arrested, booked into the Muscogee County Jail and forced to post bond to regain her freedom.

But a Muscogee County grand jury refused to indict Chavez, and Columbus police testified there wasn’t sufficient evidence to support an arrest, attorney Frank Martin said.

“He took the law into his own hands,” Martin said of Allen’s decision to take out a warrant after police refused to do so.

Martin urged jurors to correct the “miscarriage of justice” and protect Chavez from those who would “run roughshod over little people.”

Defense attorney Clark Adams said Allen confronted Chavez about taking the money from his store and had reason to be suspicious of her. He also said that Columbus detectives told Allen they would not arrest Chavez based on their investigation. But detectives typed the warrant and drove Allen to a judge’s office so he could swear out the warrant, he said.

Adams said he expects Allen to appeal the verdict, primarily based on Judge Frank Jordan’s pretrial ruling that prevented Allen from showing that Chavez had failed a polygraph test.

“This gave him a reasonable basis to suspect her,” Adams said.

Rely on the divinations of polygraph chartgazers at your own risk.