Six people wrongly convicted and then spent decades behind bars were awarded $28.1-million in damages this week by a jury. Joseph White, Ada Taylor, Thomas Winslow, James Dean, Kathleen Gonzalez and Debra Shelden were convicted of killing and sexually assaulting Helen Wilson back in 1985. Years later DNA evidence proved their innocence.
They sued Gage County and several officials in civil court and were awarded damages. Former Gage County Attorney Randall Ritnour says the problem now is the county doesn’t have the funds and won’t be able to raise those funds through a levy. He expects this case to continue through the appeals courts.
If the appeals process isn’t successful, Gage County will be required to pay. Ritnour says, “I think the state is already talking about providing funding. The interesting part about the state is the state settled with some of the Beatrice 6 people as well as the court judgment that came out of district court in Gage County. The question is whether the state required to do that.”
Ritnour says these individuals lost 70 years of their life total and their fate was based on a bad investigation. He agrees with the jury’s decision.