An expert witness has testified that Kendel Felix, who is charged with the murder of a Brooklyn landlord, is susceptible to making false confessions.
Marc Janoson, PhD in psychology, testified that Felix has psychological traits that make him “more likely than the average person to admit to a crime he didn’t commit.” Janoson is a licensed psychologist who has specialized in psychological assessment for over 30 years.
Janoson testified that Felix “has vulnerabilities that the literature has associated with false confessions.” Janoson said that his opinion was based upon his interviews with Janoson and his mother in addition to psychological tests that were given to Felix.
Janoson stated that Felix has an IQ of 87, which puts in in the bottom fifth of the population for intelligence level. He also opined that Felix showed signs of neurological impairment as a result of a 2010 motorcycle accident.
During their interviews, Felix told Janoson that the investigators had pressured him into confessing, threatening that they would deport his parents and that he would never see his children again. Felix says that he was told that he did not need a lawyer and that he was not under arrest. Janoson reports that Felix was told, “If you give us the information we need, you can go home.”
Felix is charged with the murder of Menachem Stark. Felix confessed his involvement in Stark’s murder in a taped interview and in written statements. He confessed after the police asked him whether his father, a preacher, had taught him to tell the truth. Felix detailed how he served as the driver when a group of men snatched Stark from the front of his office on January 2, 2014.
Felix was arrested in April 2014. He explained that he was approached by someone named “Erskine,” who said that Stark owed him money and that he would give him a cut it he helped scare Stark. Felix also said that men named “Kendall” and “Irvine” had a part in the murder.
In his confession, Felix told investigators that, “I was scared s—less. This was not my thing.” He admitted to paying for the gasoline, but said that he did not light Stark on fire. Felix had worked as a carpenter in one of Stark’s properties, but did not personally know him.
NYPD Detective Christopher Scarry was one of the people present during Felix’s interview. Scarry said that, “He (Felix) was quiet, lazy, laid back, a follower, definitely not the mastermind of this.”
Stark’s half-charred corpse was found in a Long Island dumpster. Felix was the only person charged with his killing.
Stark was a member of the Hasidic Jewish community in Brooklyn. He and his business partner had built a portfolio of 1,000 units. Last November, 50 tenants of one of Stark’s rental properties were evicted when the Department of Buildings posted a notice to vacate based on the building’s “questionable structure integrity.”
If convicted, Felix faces 50 years to life in prison.