Archive for Saturday, July 15, 2000

Bledsoe gets life

Oskaloosan claims innocence at sentencing

July 15, 2000

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At his sentencing for the November 1999 murder of his sister-in-law, Camille Arfmann, Floyd S. Bledsoe, 23, gestures toward his wife, sister of his victim. Bledsoe was sentenced Friday in the Jefferson County Courthouse in Oskaloosa to life in prison for the crime.

At his sentencing for the November 1999 murder of his sister-in-law, Camille Arfmann, Floyd S. Bledsoe, 23, gestures toward his wife, sister of his victim. Bledsoe was sentenced Friday in the Jefferson County Courthouse in Oskaloosa to life in prison for the crime.

Rose Anna Erhart, left, and Bledsoe's estranged wife, Heidi Bledsoe, ponder the sentence.

Rose Anna Erhart, left, and Bledsoe's estranged wife, Heidi Bledsoe, ponder the sentence.

Wearing a button bearing the image of her slain daughter, Tommie Sue Arfmann meets with the media at the Jefferson County Courthouse in Oskaloosa. Floyd S. Bledsoe was sentenced to life in prison for the November 1999 murder of his 14-year-old sister-in-law, Camille Arfmann.

Wearing a button bearing the image of her slain daughter, Tommie Sue Arfmann meets with the media at the Jefferson County Courthouse in Oskaloosa. Floyd S. Bledsoe was sentenced to life in prison for the November 1999 murder of his 14-year-old sister-in-law, Camille Arfmann.

— Floyd S. Bledsoe finally spoke Friday.

In the minutes before he was given a life sentence for murdering his 14-year-old sister-in-law, Bledsoe silent through months of hearings and an April trial asserted his innocence in a rambling speech.

"First of all, I'd like to say I didn't do it," he said.

Bledsoe paused to choke back tears several times as he reviewed his case. He rapped the defense table with his knuckles to emphasize key points.

The evidence against him, he said, "isn't beyond a reasonable doubt, it isn't beyond a real doubt. It's all doubt."

Bledsoe, 23, was convicted in April of murder, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated indecent liberties with a child in the November death of Camille Arfmann, the younger sister of his wife, Heidi Bledsoe.

His older brother Tom, 26, testified at trial that Floyd Bledsoe had confessed to killing the girl.

Untrue, Floyd Bledsoe said.

"Tom Bledsoe, my brother, why he's done this I don't know," Floyd Bledsoe said.

He said investigators with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department railroaded his conviction.

"They won't listen to the facts," he said. "The facts show I didn't do this crime.

"The sheriff's office, they're so crooked that if they were a road, nobody'd be able to drive down it."

District Judge Gary Nafziger listened to Bledsoe, then made his ruling: a life sentence for the murder, almost 13 years in prison for the kidnapping and more than three years for the sex charge.

The three sentences will run consecutively, Nafziger ordered. It will be at least 25 years before Bledsoe is eligible for parole.

That wasn't good enough for Arfmann's mother, Tommie Sue.

"Personally," she said, "I think he should've been fried."

The sentencing came after defense attorney John Kurth made a last-ditch attempt for a new trial in the case.

Bledsoe's father, Floyd L. Bledsoe, testified that he heard three shots on his property after Arfmann's body had been removed but before three shells were recovered and used as evidence.

A sheriff's detective wouldn't listen to that information, the elder Bledsoe said.

Kurth said that information wasn't made available to him, which justified a new trial.

Additionally, he said, the evidence at trial didn't justify the verdict.

"If the jury doesn't do right, then it's up to the court to do right," Kurth said.

Jefferson County Atty. Jim Vanderbilt argued that the jury's decision was correct and that Bledsoe should receive a life sentence.

"A man who will commit these offenses ... should not be exposed to the public again," he said.

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