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Parents of Missing Mo. Girl Fail Polygraph

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on August 15, 2011 6:46 AM

Police have uncovered new evidence in the case of Breeann Rodriguez, a 3-year-old girl who disappeared near her home in Senath, Missouri around noon on Saturday.

In addition to finding training wheels that may have come from the pink bike she had been riding at the time, the girl's father, Edgar Rodriguez, told talking head Nancy Grace that he and Breeann's mother failed their polygraph tests.

What happens if you fail a polygraph?

Besides warranting a bit more attention from law enforcement, the impact of a failed polygraph ultimately depends on the court.

Because polygraph tests are not definitive and still plagued by questions of accuracy; some states, like New York and Texas, don't permit them to be entered into evidence. Others, such as California, allow their admission so long as both the defendant and the prosecutor agree to present the results to the jury.

Under the Daubert rule, federal judges are given significantly more discretion as to whether to admit polygraph evidence.

A judge must find the polygraph test to be relevant and reliable, and based on valid scientific methodology. This includes empirical testing, peer review, standards of control, and general acceptance in the community.

On these grounds, some federal courts have permitted a jury to consider evidence of a failed (or passed) polygraph, whereas others haven't.

But what about the Edgar Rodriguez and his wife? What if you fail a polygraph in Missouri?

Since State v. Biddle (1980), the state's highest court has placed a ban on the admission of polygraph evidence, meaning that the only implication of the failed polygraph is more intense scrutiny as to their potential involvement in the disappearance of Breeann Rodriguez.

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