Beatrice Six

The Beatrice Six are Joseph White, Thomas Winslow, Ada JoAnn Taylor, Debra Shelden, James Dean and Kathy Gonzalez, who were falsely found guilty of the 1985 rape and murder of Helen Wilson in Beatrice, Nebraska and served prison terms before being exonerated in 2009.

The conviction was won on forensics done by Joyce Gilchrist (who was later discredited as playing a role in multiple false convictions), and five confessions which were obtained under threats that they would be given the death penalty if they did not. Dr. Reena Roy, the Nebraska State Patrol forensic scientist who did the original blood and semen analysis, was never called to the stand to testify during the case, despite her analysis determining that none of the defendants on trial were a specific match to blood or semen found at the scene. Her findings were over-ruled by those of Dr. Gilchrist, and the case was tried on the basis of that evidence analysis instead.[1][2][3] In 2008 DNA evidence implicated in the murders Bruce Allen Smith, an original prime suspect who had died in 1992, and all of the Beatrice Six were exonerated the following year.[4][5]

Most of the defendants were persuaded by the police psychologist, Wayne Price, that they had repressed memories of the crime.[5] White, who maintained his innocence, demanded the examination of DNA evidence that led to their exoneration and then filed a Federal civil rights lawsuit against Gage County, Nebraska for him and the others, which went to trial in January 2014; White had by then died in a workplace accident in 2011.[5][6] In July 2016, a jury awarded them $28 million,[7] The county appealed and it reached the Supreme Court of the United States, which denied the appeal on March 4, 2019. Gage County had to raise property taxes to the maximum amount permitted under the law in order to pay the jury award.[5] It is expected that the county will make payments twice a year after property taxes are collected. The Beatrice Six, including the heirs of White, should receive their first payment around May, 2019.[8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Nebraskans Mark a Year of Freedom". Archived 2013-12-24 at the Wayback Machine Innocence Project.
  2. ^ Strauss, David L.; Steven A. Drizin (2010). "Afterword". Barbarous souls. Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press. p. 256. ISBN 0810126710.
  3. ^ Bureau, Joe Duggan / World-Herald. "Beatrice Six trial: Even in 1989, forensics didn't point to men and women who went to prison for crime". Retrieved 2018-07-24.
  4. ^ Chris Dunker (November 25, 2013). "Beatrice Six ask judge to limit suggestions they were guilty". Beatrice Daily Sun.
  5. ^ a b c d Flynn, Meagan. "Six people were convicted of a murder they didn't even remember. Now a county owes them $28 million". Washington Post. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  6. ^ Chris Dunker. "County asks Beatrice Six trials to be separated". Beatrice Daily Sun.
  7. ^ Duggan, Joe. "Beatrice Six win millions in civil rights claims, but 'no amount of money' will replace years lost, one family says". Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  8. ^ Stoddard, Martha. "U.S. Supreme Court to let stand $28.1 million judgment against Gage County in Beatrice Six case". Retrieved 6 March 2019.

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