BEATRICE, Neb. (AP) — Gage County has made the first of several $1 million-plus payments to those wrongly convicted of a 1985 murder in Beatrice.
The first payment of $1.9 million was made this week to the so-called Beatrice Six, who were imprisoned for the murder 68-year-old Helen Wilson but exonerated by DNA evidence in 2008. Wilson’s death has since been linked to a former Beatrice resident who died in 1992.
After they were cleared, the six sued the county, alleging that local law enforcement officials coerced false confessions and recklessly pursued the case. A jury awarded them a $28.1 million judgment, and federal courts upheld it.
Gage County officials say it could be nearly a decade before the entire judgment is paid. The county is relying on a half-cent sales tax and a maximum 50-cent property tax levy to help pay the judgment.