By Ariana Costakes
A three-part feature in the
delves into the wrongful conviction case of Floyd Bledsoe, who served 15 years in prison for the murder of his 14-year-old sister-in-law before being exonerated in December of 2014.
Floyd’s brother Tom initially confessed to the crime, led the police to the girl’s body and turned over the murder weapon but later recanted, claiming Floyd was the perpetrator. No evidence tied Floyd to the crime aside from his brother’s testimony. Floyd was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison in 2000.
Last fall, the
Midwest Innocence Project
Paul E. Wilson Project for Innocence and Post-Conviction Remedies at the University of Kansas School of Law
filed a motion for a new trial for Floyd based on DNA evidence from the girl’s rape kit which excluded Floyd and included Tom. Shortly thereafter, Tom took his own life, leaving behind three suicide notes and voice messages confessing to the crime and insisting his brother had nothing to do with it. In the notes, Tom claimed that the prosecutor at the time encouraged him to change his story and implicate his brother. On December 8, 2014, Floyd’s conviction was vacated, his charges were dismissed and he was released from prison.
Since Kansas has no law requiring the recording of interrogations, neither of the brothers’ interrogations were recorded. The jury could not witness Tom’s initial confession to police or his statements regarding the crime scene. Since Floyd’s release, his attorneys have been pushing legislators to introduce a law requiring recorded interrogations.
Currently, 19 states and the District of Columbia have mandated—either by statute or court action—the practice of recording custodial interviews. Additional law enforcement agencies across hundreds of individual jurisdictions have voluntarily record interrogations because they have found the practice to be beneficial to police and prosecutors as well as to innocent suspects.
“Cases like Floyd’s really show the need for accountability and transparency,” Tricia Bushnell, legal director of the Midwest Innocence Project told the
. “We think this is the right time to reintroduce it and the right time for people to reconsider it.”
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