Jury deliberates “Beatrice 6” trial

Posted By: Camila Orti

Three weeks of testimonies and questioning are finally coming to a close; the trial accusing three Gage County officials of a reckless investigation involving the “Beatrice 6” is now in the hands of a jury.

“I certainly think the Beatrice 6, so called, had a right to bring the action,” attorney Lyle Koenig said.

Koenig has a specific interest in the case; he was the defense attorney for JoAnn Taylor, one of the “Beatrice 6” back in 1985. Taylor, Joseph White, Tom Winslow, Debra Shelden, James Dean and Kathy Gonzalez served a collective 77 years in prison after being sentenced in Helen Wilson's murder.

After being exonerated in 2008, five of the six wrongfully accused sued the investigating deputies, accusing them of conducting a reckless investigation and manufacturing evidence.

Koenig says this month's trial has brought several new things to light, but the inconsistencies were still there back when he was defending Taylor.

“I'd have tried the case in a New York minute if it hadn't been for the dealth penalty because early on I perceived all kinds of problems with the evidence, I saw that,” Koenig said.

In closing arguments, attorneys defending the Gage County officials say they conducted a logical investigation following the suspects' statements. The prosecuting side argues those confessions were forced out of the suspects, who were vulnerable and delusional, while hard evidence, like DNA, was ignored.

It was a re–testing of DNA in 2008 that proved Bruce Allen Smith, who had already died in prison, was responsible for Helen Wilson's murder.

The jury deliberated for a few hours Monday afternoon and were dismissed at 5 p.m. without reaching a verdict. They will resume Tuesday morning.