State compensation isn’t enough for five of the Beatrice 6. Lawsuits have been filed in U.S. District Court against current and former Gage County officials based on the 1985 rape and murder case of Helen Wilson of Beatrice. Six people spent time in prison for the crime, but DNA evidence proved in 2008 that none of those six were actually involved. Attorney Herb Friedman represents one of the five plaintiffs.
“Mr. Dean spent about five and a half years in penitentiary and of course the others….some of the spent more than that, but it had a profound impact on your life to carve five years out of it and put you in a penitentiary for something you never did.”
Friedman says the lawsuit might not have been necessary if the State Legislature had followed through with the original compensation proposal. The original bill would have paid people $50,000 for every year spent in prison for a crime they did not commit. By the time the bill passed, that figure had dropped to $25,000.