Six Residents in Nebraska Wrongfully Convicted of Rape and Murder Receive Damages
In a huge miscarriage of justice, six people were convicted of a murder they had no connection with. Each person had no connection whatsoever with the murder victim. A police psychologist convinced 5 of them they committed the murder but they had no memories of the crime due to a psychological concept referred to as “memory repression.”
What Happened in the Case
An elderly women, Helen Wilson, was raped and murdered February 5, 1985 in Beatrice, Nebraska. The case went on for four years with no leads or suspects. The authorities decided to pursue city outcasts.
That’s when White and Taylor popped up on the police’s radar in 1989. The two met in California then returned to Beatrice, Nebraska, where Taylor was from. White maintained his innocence. However, Taylor was quickly convinced by detectives that she was involved in Wilson’s rape and murder. The detectives helped refresh her memory of the events that unfolded. However, she could not describe the victim’s apartment, clothing, or her reasoning for being at Wilson’s residence. She admitted to suffocating Wilson as White raped her, once the authorities helped her piece these fabricated memories together.
The investigators were still stumped because Type B blood was found on the scene and neither White or Taylor had Type B blood. Therefore, the authorities were convinced more parties were involved in the violent crime.
Taylor stated she had dreams of another man being present, a person named Thomas Winslow. Thomas Winslow and Taylor had gone to High School together. His blood type was not Type B, however, he arrested anyways. Another friend who associated with the others, Shelden, was convinced by police that she too had been a part of the crime, even though she had no memories of the event. Shelden confessed to a crime that she did not commit and then lead authorities to another suspect that she had dreamed about, Dean. Dean was then interview by the police psychologist, named Price, who convinced that he too had forgotten about the murder.
Shelden and Dean then stated they dreamed about Gonzalez being at the scene as well. Gonzalez stated she had a solid memory and believed she was doing laundry at the time of the attack. However, Gonzalez had Type B blood, so therefore she was arrested and charged with the murder and rape of Helen Wilson. She plead no contest.
White who maintained his innocence offered up his DNA to prove his innocence. However, his DNA was not tested until 2007 which proved his innocence along with the five other co-defendants.
DNA tests did find Helen Wilson’s true rapist and murderer; Bruce Allen Smith. Smith resided in Beatrice, Nebraska and died in the early 90s.
Of the six co-defendants some were the victims of childhood sexual and physical assault, some suffered from mental illness, while others were intellectually challenged. These defendants were perhaps more susceptible to police pressure than others. The police and psychologist took advantage of these people in in their prosecution. A manipulative use of a questionable “science,” called “memory repression,” was used to convince these people that they took part in this murder.
The Nebraska Supreme Court upheld $28.1 million dollars in damages to the so-called Beatrice Six. The county which prosecuted the Beatrice Six appealed the finding of damages twice, but the Nebraska Supreme Court refused to overturn the damages.
ArborYpsi Law Takeaways
Every person is entitled to legal representation at all times. NEVER speak with or interview with the police, detectives or police psychologist’s without your attorney present. The authorities have a way of planting seeds in suspects minds. They try to reassure suspects by asking yes or no questions pertaining to the case. “You were there, you just don’t remember, right?” “Maybe you can’t recall what happened because it was so violent?” DO NOT get involved with these mind games. That’s your attorney’s concern. No one should be the authorities’ scape goat for a dead end, cold case, especially those with mental disabilities. KNOW YOUR RIGHTS.
Sam Bernstein is a criminal lawyer.
ArborYpsi Law is located at 4158 Washtenaw Ave. Ann Arbor, MI 48108.
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