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Omaha, NE (2013-08-9)
A federal judge has consolidated the lawsuits of five people cleared by DNA evidence in the 1985 killing of a Beatrice woman and set trial for next year.
The trial comes after a federal appeals court ruled last fall that lawsuits filed by Joseph White, Thomas Winslow, Ada JoAnn Taylor, James Dean and Kathleen Gonzalez against Gage County officials can continue. The five were convicted of killing Helen Wilson and spent a combined 87 years in prison before they were exonerated in 2008 after DNA testing implicated another man. A sixth person wrongly convicted in the case, Debra Shelden, did not sue the county. On Sunday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Cheryl Zwart ordered the trial to begin Jan. 6 and allocated 10 days for trial, from jury selection to closing arguments.
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