Judge declares mistrial in Beatrice 6 civil case - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE; KLKNTV.com

Judge declares mistrial in Beatrice 6 civil case

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By: Lauren Fabrizi

Think back to 1985. Think back to when six Beatrice people were wrongfully convicted of murdering a woman.

That's exactly what a jury of 12 had to do this week.

After DNA testing eventually freed the group, known as the Beatrice 6, they then sued some of the Gage County investigators involved in the case.

Thursday was day three of jury deliberation.

"The jurors, we did the best we could," Bob Bade, one of the jurors, said. "We were very committed to coming up with a verdict."

But they simply couldn't.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Kopf declared a mistrial Thursday as the result of a hung jury.

Three long days of deliberation, and what one juror recalls as nearly 36 pieces of the case to consider, lead the twelve jurors to be too split on a decision.

"When you're faced with that many decisions in one case, it's going to make it very difficult to be unanimous in a decision on all counts," Bade said.

Jeffry Patterson, one of the attorneys for the Beatrice 6, didn't have much to say except, "It is what it is, we just need to move on."

Channel 8 Eyewitness News also reached out to the defense attorneys with no response.

Bade said the jurors would exchange countless notes with each other in an effort to keep an open mind.

"We did what we could to compromise," Bade said. "And yet in that compromise, compromise to the point where they felt like they were changing their mind in spite of being convicted in their decision a different way."

The civil case will be retried. There will be a hearing in the next week or so to determine the start date.


Posted By:  KLKN Newsroom

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) _ A federal judge has declared a mistrial in a civil rights lawsuit seeking damages for six people wrongly convicted in a 1985 Nebraska murder.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Kopf declared the mistrial Thursday, after three days of jury deliberation following a three-week trial.  Six of the 12 jurors told the judge that they were unlikely to reach a verdict.  

James Dean, Kathleen Gonzalez, Debra Shelden, Ada JoAnn Taylor, Joseph White and Thomas Winslow served a combined 77 years in prison before DNA testing exonerated them in 2008. The six had been convicted in the murder of Helen Wilson.

The estate of White, who died in 2011, and the surviving five sought at least $14 million in damages, saying their civil rights were violated and that they were coerced into damaging statements.

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