BEATRICE – The Gage County Board will hold a special meeting Wednesday, to discuss issues following today’s ruling by a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The panel upheld the jury verdict and $28.1-million-dollar award against the county, in the Beatrice Six case.
Gage County Board Chairman Myron Dorn says the county has fourteen days to decide on an appeal of the panel’s finding to the full 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.
:04 “likely scenario”
County officials plan to meet with legal counsel in closed session Wednesday morning at ten. Dorn says he expects there will be some public statement following. He says he was disappointed in the appeals panel decision.
:22 “what they decided”
A separate challenge by the county involving whether the county had insurance coverage to cover part, or all of the judgment, remains pending.
Attorneys Patrick O’Brien, Jennifer Tomka and Melanie Whittamore-Mantzios have been representing the county in the case. With legal bills associated with the case, the amount Gage County could be responsible for may exceed $31 million.
:06 “move forward”
Gage County had appealed the verdict and judgment against it, in the convictions of the Beatrice Six. They were arrested and served time for the February 1985 rape and murder of Helen Wilson, of Beatrice.
The six were exonerated by DNA evidence in 2008, gaining pardons from the State of Nebraska in 2009. The group later filed a lawsuit saying their arrests and imprisonment were the result of a reckless investigation, manufactured false evidence and coerced confessions.
The appeals panel ruled that deputies knowingly violated the due process rights of the defendants by applying “systematic pressure” to implicate the defendants…and by “purposefully ignoring” exonerating evidence.