Bledsoe murder case goes to jury

OSKALOOSA — Did Floyd S. Bledsoe have time to kill?

Jurors were asked to consider competing timelines Thursday while deciding whether Bledsoe shot his 14-year-old sister-in-law in the back of the head with a 9 mm pistol last November.

“Floyd did it,” Jefferson County Atty. Jim Vanderbilt told jurors in closing statements.

Prosecutors say Bledsoe, 23, was absent from his job at key times Nov. 5, the day Camille Arfmann disappeared and when a girl’s screams were heard near the dairy where he worked.

But defense attorney John Kurth told jurors Bledsoe, at best, had 15 free minutes here and there that day; too little time for kidnap and murder.

“That’s not reasonable doubt” that Bledsoe killed the girl, Kurth said. “That’s all doubt.”

Bledsoe is charged with felony counts of first-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated indecent liberties with a child in the death of Arfmann, whose body was found Nov. 8 buried in a ditch northwest of Oskaloosa. In addition, Judge Gary Nafziger allowed an amended charge of felony murder.

After hearing competing theories from defense and prosecution lawyers, the jury — eight men and four women, most in their 30s and 40s — began deliberating the charges against Bledsoe.

At 2:10 p.m., jurors were sequestered in a conference room across the hall from the courtroom. They paused twice, once to ask a question of Nafziger, again to tell him they wanted to go home for the evening after two-and-a-half cloistered hours.

“Are you making progress in your deliberations?” the judge asked.

“Some,” replied the presiding juror. “But we have a lot of issues.”

They are to resume deliberations at 9 a.m. today.

The jurors, who had sat through four days of testimony, appeared very attentive during Thursday’s closing arguments.

Vanderbilt’s statement was as much defense of Tom Bledsoe as it was indictment of Floyd Bledsoe.

Tom Bledsoe, 26, was the only witness in the case to directly link his brother Floyd to the killing. Tom was charged with the murder until he recanted his confession and accused Floyd.

Police say it was Tom Bledsoe’s gun that killed Arfmann. Tom Bledsoe took investigators to the body.

“One of two things happened, ladies and gentlemen,” Vanderbilt said in his closing statement. “Either (Tom) put her there, or Floyd did.”

Timing, he said, narrowed it to Floyd Bledsoe. Tom Bledsoe was in Lawrence when Arfmann disappeared.

Floyd Bledsoe “is the only one who had the opportunity to get it all done,” Vanderbilt said.

But Kurth said that was not so.

Arfmann “deserves some justice, but it needs to be the right person,” the defense attorney said. “We’ve got the wrong person.”

He said there was evidence Tom could have been in Oskaloosa instead of Lawrence the day of the murder.

That, the gun, and the confession made Tom Bledsoe the more likely killer, Kurth said.

“The reason he knew where the body was, was because he put her in there,” Kurth said.

When he discovered the unpleasantness of jail, Kurth said, Tom Bledsoe decided to accuse his brother.

“Tom is nothing but a liar and he lied to get out of jail,” Kurth said.

Timeline: Floyd Bledsoe murder conviction overturned

● May 29, 2016 — Lawsuit filed by wrongfully convicted man details how law enforcement officials allegedly framed him

● May 21, 2016 — Floyd Bledsoe, wrongfully imprisoned for 15 years, pushes to end death penalty in Kansas

● May 10, 2016 — Floyd Bledsoe, wrongfully imprisoned for 15 years, says he was ‘framed,’ files lawsuit against Kansas justice officials

● Feb. 12, 2016 — Wrongfully convicted Floyd Bledsoe seeks videotaped interrogations in Kansas

● Feb. 8, 2016 — Kansas bill would allow $235K for wrongfully convicted man who spent 15 years in prison

● Jan. 18, 2016 — Jefferson County attorney doesn’t expect further action against former sheriff, others involved in wrongful murder conviction

● Jan. 17, 2016 — Bledsoe case spurs measure to allow compensation for wrongful convictions

● Jan. 10, 2016 — Requiring that police interrogations be recorded might have prevented tragedy of wrongful conviction

● Dec. 30, 2015 — ‘Who are you going to tell?’ — Floyd Bledsoe, wrongfully convicted of murder, discusses pain of prison, journey to forgiveness

● Dec. 27, 2015 — 1999 Oskaloosa murder case reopened; possibility that killer ‘had assistance’

● Dec. 13, 2015 — Web of lies, indifference to justice led to wrong Kansas brother being imprisoned for more than 15 years

● Dec. 13, 2015 — Kansas has no law on payouts for wrongly incarcerated prisoners

Dec. 8, 2015 — Judge throws out 2000 murder conviction, frees Oskaloosa man after 15 years in prison

● Nov. 13, 2015 — Original suspect in girl’s murder dies of apparent suicide as case about to be revisited

● Oct. 21, 2015 — KU Project for Innocence, Midwest Innocence Project seeks to free convicted murderer with DNA evidence

● July 8, 2012 — Objection to DNA testing not likely

● June 20, 2012 — Motion seeks DNA testing in 1999 murder of teen

● Sept. 30, 2009 — Further appeals limited in Bledsoe case

● July 5, 2009 — 1999 murder case won’t settle

● June 28, 2009 — Federal court reverses release in murder case

● Oct. 7, 2008 — Floyd Bledsoe, sentenced to life for murder of teen sister-in-law, set free; ineffective assistance of counsel cited

● Feb. 3, 2007 — Court upholds murder conviction

● Feb. 2, 2002 — Murder conviction is upheld

● Dec. 5, 2001 — Attorneys appeal conviction of teen-ager’s murderer

● Dec. 2, 2001 — Oskaloosa murder case to be heard

● July 15, 2000 — Victim’s family unsure justice was served

● July 15, 2000 — Bledsoe gets life

● July 14, 2000 — Bledsoe sentenced to life in prison

● June 23, 2000 — Bledsoe sentencing delayed

● May 31, 2000 — Lawyer: Mother’s story changes

● April 30, 2000 — Minister supports Bledsoe in spirit

● April 28, 2000 — Bledsoe found guilty

● April 28, 2000 — Bledsoe murder case goes to jury

● April 27, 2000 — Bledsoe charges amended

● April 27, 2000 — Bledsoe prosecution rests

● April 27, 2000 — Bledsoe murder trial wrapping up

● April 26, 2000 — Tom Bledsoe seeks to explain lies

● April 26, 2000 — Bledsoe told his mother he didn’t kill Arfmann

● April 25, 2000 — Pool of potential jurors knows all about case

● April 25 2000 — Trial starts in murder of girl, 14

● April 24, 2000 — Murder trial to begin today

● Dec. 10, 1999 — Family of victim tries to cope with pain, loss

● Dec. 10, 1999 — Murder suspect enters innocent plea

● Dec. 9, 1999 — Murder suspect to be arraigned

● Nov. 30, 1999 — Case pits brother vs. brother

● Nov. 18, 1999 — Friends relieved charges were dismissed against Oskaloosa man

● Nov. 16, 1999 — Wife proclaims husband’s innocence in girl’s death

● Nov. 14, 1999 — In-law jailed in slaying of teen-ager

● Nov. 14, 1999 — Family, friends mourn Camille

● Nov. 10, 1999 — Quiet hearing for defendant charged with girl’s slaying

● Nov. 10, 1999 — Bledsoe recieves murder charge

● Nov. 9, 1999 — Police hold relative of slain girl

● Nov. 9, 1999 — Girl’s death leaves family, children with questions


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