'Beatrice 6' Exonerated

Joseph White, found guilty of participating in the rape-murder of 68-year-old Helen Wilson in Beatrice, Nebraska in 1985, was awarded a new trial in October after new DNA testing failed to connect White to the crime scene, while pointing to the likely involvement of Bruce Smith from Oklahoma City. Prosecutors have since dismissed the charges against White.

In the wake of that decision, five defendants who pled guilty to the same crime (presumably to avoid the death penalty) will receive pardons. Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning told the State Board of Pardons that the "Beatrice 6" are "100 percent innocent." [more ...]

Bruning's insistence that "ultimately the truth will be found, that justice will be served" underlies his continuing support for the death penalty. Really? What if there had been no DNA? Does Bruning seriously believe that every wrongful conviction is discovered and righted? There's about as much evidence to support that belief as there is for the notion that wrongful convictions never occur. It's a bit late in the day to have blind faith in the ability of the criminal justice system to get it right, even belatedly.

< Albuquerque Police Ignored 911 Calls; Settle Suit After Murder-Suicide | Not Forgetting Torture >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    not even the (none / 0) (#1)
    by cpinva on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 02:10:21 AM EST
    founding fathers expressed such blind faith in our system of justice. as many of them noted, in personal writings, regardless of how good your system is, it still comes down to very fallible human beings administering it.

    i'm constantly reminded of the idiot stick former va atty. gen., who opined that no jury in our fair commonwealth had ever convicted an innocent person. as it so happens, he was a republican.

    Five more false confessions duly noted. (none / 0) (#3)
    by Lacy on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 08:15:31 AM EST
    This case adds greatly to the body of evidence confirming the phenomena of false confessions.

    But I do believe that a couple of the false confessors in perhaps the most infamous case (in Norfolk/Virginia Beach) may still be in prison along with the actual perpetrator, whose DNA supported his claims that he alone committed that heinous rape/murder. (He later changed his story to protect detectives who had obtained false confessions, thereby getting a better deal for himself from those who would send innocent men to jail to cover for police misconduct.)

    Funny how... (none / 0) (#4)
    by kdog on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 08:22:14 AM EST
    when the justice system "works", that is when you really see how badly it doesn't work.

    Couldn't agree more... (none / 0) (#5)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 12:45:26 PM EST
    ...plenty of guilty as hell people walking around free as a bird right now.

    That said, I support restitution for convicted and incarcerated innocents.


    If guilty people go free (none / 0) (#6)
    by TChris on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 01:06:35 PM EST
    because there isn't probable cause to arrest them or proof beyond a reasonable doubt to convict them, that's evidence of the system working, not evidence of a broken system.

    I get your point, I just don't agree. (none / 0) (#7)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 01:42:10 PM EST
    Here's an example.

    Guy I met at a party years ago was driving down the 405 here in LA one night with his girlfriend and he and another dude in another car got into a little pissing match on the freeway. Tailgating each other, brighting each other with their headlights, etc.

    This other dude then pulls up on the passenger side and empties his 9mm into the side of the guy I'm talking too's car. His girlfriend gets hit several times, one severs her spinal cord.

    The cops find the shooter w/in an hour or so and eventually try him. He is not convicted.

    As the shooter and his family leave the courtroom after having not been convicted they laugh and jeer at the paraplegic girlfriend as she sits in her wheelchair.

    I'm guessing she would disagree with you that that's an example of the system working.