Attorney General Jon Bruning says he will appeal a judge’s decision to give $800,000 to two people wrongly convicted in the 1985 murder of an elderly Beatrice woman.
Gage County District Judge Daniel Bryan, Jr. ordered the state to pay half a million dollars to 49-year-old Ada JoAnn Taylor and $300,000 to 48-year-old James Dean under the Wrongful Conviction and Imprisonment Act.
The two were part of the co-called Beatrice Six, wrongfully convicted in the death of Helen Wilson. Physical evidence preserved from the scene of the crime exonerated the six defendants. It identified an Oklahoma City man who died in 1992 as the killer.
The state has paid more than a million dollars combined to three of the former co-defendants, most of whom confessed to participating in the murder. Joseph White was the only one of the six to maintain he was innocent of the crime. White died of a workplace accident last year. Thomas Winslow and Kathy Gonzalez have been awarded compensation for their time in prison.
A claim against the state by the sixth person convicted in the murder case, Debra Shelden, is pending in the courts.
The state had argued against the compensation request filed by Taylor and Dean, arguing that they had perjured themselves in court by providing false statements.
“Mr. Dean and Ms. Taylor provided false testimony that led to the conviction of an innocent man,” Attorney General Jon Bruning said in a written statement released by his office. “We continue to believe the Nebraska Legislature did not intend to provide recovery to those who commit perjury under the Wrongful Conviction and Imprisonment Act. We will appeal this decision.”
Attorneys for the two had argued that they had been pressured by law enforcement officers into believing their false testimony in court was actually true.
The award given to Taylor is the maximum allowed under the 2009 wrongful conviction law.