BEATRICE – The Gage County Board will send a formal letter in support of a bill to enable the State of Nebraska to pay federal judgments through the state’s claims process.
The move by the county relates to the over $28 million civil judgment in the Beatrice Six case. That judgment has been appealed by the county to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is yet to decide if the appeal will be heard. Six defendants who the state says were wrongly convicted, spent a combined 75 years in state prison in the rape and murder of a Beatrice woman, in 1985. DNA evidence later pointed to a lone suspect, a drifter who died in 1992. A jury awarded the six a civil judgment against Gage County, now stuck footing the bill for a case prosecuted in the 1990s.
Greg Lauby, of Wymore supports LB 474, initially introduced by former State Senator Roy Baker. The bill was reintroduced this session by State Senator Myron Dorn, of Adams. Lauby says it didn’t make it out of committee, last year.
:20 “out of committee”
This session’s public hearing on the bill is scheduled for February 21st, in the Judiciary Committee. Lauby said one goal of the bill is to protect who he described as “innocent property owners”.
:22 “Beatrice six”
Don Schuller, of Wymore…who ran against Dorn in the local legislative race, urged county officials to testify in support of LB 474 when it comes before the Judiciary Committee.
:14 “state, to help”
Both Lauby and Schuller maintain that prosecution of the Beatrice Six was a state, not a county function.
County officials did not testify for the bill in last year’s session. At the time, discussions were ongoing regarding legal strategy, behind closed doors. Gage County Attorney Roger Harris said there were details that could not be discussed publicly, while appeals were pending.
:28 “working with”
Gage County Board Chairman Erich Tiemann says there’s been ongoing discussions between state officials and the county, on the Beatrice Six case.
The board held a closed session Wednesday on possible committee testimony, since supervisors do not have another regular meeting prior to the February 21st Judiciary Committee hearing.