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Archive for Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wrongfully Convicted: He spent 10 years in prison for a rape he didn’t commit; now he’s getting $7.5M

Eddie Lowery, left, walks with his attorney Barry Clark on Seventh Street. Lowery was wrongfully convicted of a rape in the 1980s while he was a soldier at Fort Riley. Decades later, DNA evidence showed he did not commit the crime.

Eddie Lowery, left, walks with his attorney Barry Clark on Seventh Street. Lowery was wrongfully convicted of a rape in the 1980s while he was a soldier at Fort Riley. Decades later, DNA evidence showed he did not commit the crime.

February 11, 2010

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Man spent 10 years in prison for a rape he didn’t commit; now he’s getting $7.5M

Over the past 30 years, Eddie Lowery has been a soldier, a convicted rapist, an ex-convict, a registered sex offender, a husband and a father. Enlarge video

Eddie Lowery discusses rebuilding his life

Eddie Lowery discusses his wrongful conviction, his 10 years in prison, and his efforts to rebuild his life. Enlarge video

Over the past 30 years, Eddie Lowery has been a soldier, a convicted rapist, an ex-convict, a registered sex offender, a husband and a father.

But Lowery, 50, is also an exonerated man who spent 10 years in a Kansas prison for a rape he didn’t commit.

After nearly three decades, Lowery’s struggle with the criminal justice system is almost complete.

“I feel now that justice is coming full circle,” he said in a recent interview.

Lowery has reached a $7.5 million settlement with the Riley County officials who worked to wrongfully convict him. And, last week, officials in the Kansas attorney general’s office announced they had arrested the man they believe actually committed the crime.

“Who could ever imagine a story like this?” Lowery said.

It’s a story that began in 1981 when Lowery, a U.S. Army soldier stationed at Fort Riley, hit a parked car while on his way to the store. Lowery spoke with police, detailing the accident.

“I thought that’d pretty much be the end of it,” said Lowery, who at the time was married with a 3-year-old daughter.

But when he went to the station the next day, police began questioning him about the rape of an elderly Ogden woman that had occurred near the accident.

“It was very disturbing to me,” he said. “How could anyone even think I could be part of this crime.”

Lowery denied involvement, but the next day, police brought him back in for more questioning.

“I thought I’d tell them what happened and they’d believe me and I’d go back to my normal life,” Lowery said.

But police didn’t believe him, and the questioning became more heated, as police denied him an attorney and the opportunity to make any phone calls.

Lowery took a lie detector test.

“I wanted to clear my name. I wanted to help,” he said.

Police told him he failed the lie detector test. “They started coming down on me real hard,” Lowery said. “They just continued to hammer me and threaten me.”

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After hours of questioning, Lowery said he simply broke down.

“I was totally mentally exhausted,” he said. “I didn’t know how to get out of the situation.”

Police began giving Lowery facts of the case, and Lowery repeated them back. The interview was not recorded, but police said they had a “confession.”

“I beat myself up for years for giving them a false confession,” Lowery said. “They had no other evidence. ... Because I wasn’t there.”

Lowery was tried based solely on that confession. His first trial resulted in a hung jury, but during the second trial the jury convicted him of rape, aggravated battery and aggravated assault.

“When they came in and read the guilty verdict, I was stunned,” Lowery said.

Prison

At age 22, Lowery received a sentence of 11 years to life and was sent to Lansing Correctional Facility.

“I thought I’d be in prison forever,” he said.

After six years at Lansing, he was transferred to minimum security and began thinking about the possibility of being released.

He played on prison softball teams and ran 10K races through the streets of Lansing.

A 19 year old Eddie Lowery in his Military garb, and a photo of him with long hair. He spent 10 years in prison for a rape that he didn't commit.

A 19 year old Eddie Lowery in his Military garb, and a photo of him with long hair. He spent 10 years in prison for a rape that he didn't commit.

“That made me realize how much I was missing my family,” said Lowery, who didn’t see his daughter while in prison.

Three times, Lowery came before the parole board, and each time he denied involvement in the rape. With the years passing him by, Lowery said he was finally prepared to tell the review board he committed the crime.

Lowery completed a required sex offender course, where he had to lie about being a rapist.

“Basically, I lied to go to prison and I had to lie to get out of prison,” said Lowery, who was paroled in 1991.

After his release, Lowery started patching his life back together. He moved to Kansas City, Mo., remarried, had two children, and got a job working at Ford. But in 1994, he received a letter informing him that because of a new law, he’d be required to register as a sex offender.

“I assumed everyone would find out. It just put me in a deep depression. It was a humiliating time in my life,” Lowery said.

A few years later, Lowery began hearing about how DNA testing was helping exonerate the wrongfully convicted.

“I knew I could prove my innocence,” said Lowery, who started a six-year quest to find a lawyer to assist him. Lowery was referred to Manhattan, Kan., attorney Barry Clark. With the assistance of the New York-based Innocence Project, Clark helped locate the original rape kit, which was still in an envelope in the Riley County records vault.

“You could have knocked me over with a feather,” said Clark, who was doubtful they’d find the evidence after more than 20 years. “I thought, ‘This is providence.’”

Lowery described finding out about the kit as one of the most emotional moments of his life.

“When he (Clark) told me that they found the rape kit, I knew that I was going to be found innocent of this crime,” Lowery said.

In 2003, the kit was sent to a private DNA testing firm, where the results showed Lowery couldn’t have committed the rape. Lowery’s record was expunged and he received apologies from Riley County officials. However, to this day, Lowery said the detectives who pressured him into a false confession have never expressed remorse to him.

“I don’t think the detectives will ever apologize,” he said.

Surviving

Lowery credits his faith with helping him get through the tough years in prison and the struggle of proving his innocence.

“I know that prayers are answered. God has taught me patience,” he said.

And Lowery’s final prayer, that the real perpetrator is caught, also may have been answered.

Last week, Riley County officials and the Kansas attorney general’s office announced the arrest of New York resident Daniel Brewer, 55. Brewer will be extradited to Kansas, where he’ll be charged with two rapes, according to a spokesperson for the attorney general. Few details have been released about the circumstances of the arrest.

Eddie Lowery, who was convicted of rape and spend 10 years in Lansing, talks about his life in prison and the DNA testing that set him free. Lowery has just settled with the State of Kansas for a little over 7 million dollars.

Eddie Lowery, who was convicted of rape and spend 10 years in Lansing, talks about his life in prison and the DNA testing that set him free. Lowery has just settled with the State of Kansas for a little over 7 million dollars.

Brewer had been charged with another rape in Kansas in 1981. The case ended with a mistrial. Officials claim Brewer committed the crime Lowery was convicted of a month after the mistrial.

“I prayed for a long time that everything would work out,” Lowery said. “It’s taken a long time, but everything’s worked out perfectly.”

But the years in prison have taken their toll on his relationships with some family members, and to this day trust is difficult for him. Since getting out of prison, Lowery keeps the receipts when he goes to the store so he can always prove his whereabouts.

“I know it sounds kind of crazy, but after you’ve been through something I’ve been through, it doesn’t sound as crazy,” he said.

Lowery is only months away from receiving his $7.5 million settlement, or roughly $2,000 for every day he spent incarcerated. He describes himself as a shy, lifelong blue collar worker and said it will take time to get used to having that amount of money. Some of it will go to pay for college for his son, Joey, who graduates from high school in May, and later for his daughter, Brooke, a high school sophomore. Lowery said he’s grateful the settlement money will help him take care of his family, but no amount of money can ever compensate him.

“Justice would have been never having to go through this,” he said.

Despite the years lost, Lowery isn’t bitter or angry about what happened to him, said Nick Brustin, the New York-based attorney who spent seven years working with Lowery on the civil case.

“He has this inner calm despite what he’s been through,” Brustin said. “He’s an amazing guy.”

Lowery said he will continue to speak out about wrongful convictions, something he has been doing for years in conjunction with the Innocence Project. By telling his story, he said, he hopes to educate those in the criminal justice system.

“It happened to me and it could happen to anyone,” said Lowery, who urges people to be aware of their rights.

Lowery said he isn’t sure what he plans to do with the rest of his life, but he’s looking forward to focusing on his family and working to repair his relationship with the daughter, who is now 29, that he wasn’t able to see grow up.

“I’d just like to take a little vacation and relax and think about my future,” he said.

Comments

ralphralph 4 years, 10 months ago

Wow. This is a stunning story. I have read about people giving "coerced" confessions, and it just doesn't register. I know you can be put under a lot of pressure, over a long period of time, and be scared, worried and worn out. I can't, though, comprehend how you can get to the point of telling the police you raped someone just so it would be over. That, obviously, is what happened in this case, and apparently in many others. How can that be? Anyone have a link or cite to some reading on the topic, as I would like to see what underlies the phenomenon of confessing falsely.

kansasredlegs 4 years, 10 months ago

Shame on the Government and its agents. Such conduct should not be tolerated in a free, liberty-based society. The Communist Justice System (oxymoron I know) had a saying, "Better that 100 innocent people be found guilty than 1 guilty person go free!" Seems that the US police-prison industry is playing catch up here in America.

There is a simple solution to this type of police behavior. It's called the "Day for Day" law. Simply put, any law enforcement officer involved in the wrongful conviction of an INNOCENT person shall be subject to the same penalty as the wrongly convicted person. Days of unconstitutional behavior by those protecting and serving its citizens would diminish greatly, don't you think?

riverdrifter 4 years, 10 months ago

“I’d just like to take a little vacation and relax and think about my future, he said."

'Living well is the best revenge.'

This I know.

down_the_river 4 years, 10 months ago

Holy cow! So any down on his luck schmo can confess to a crime, then turn around and sue the City for believing him? Are we soon to see the day when more time is spent on detectives disproving gold digging confessions to protect the city than tracking criminals to protect the citizens? I only hope he donates a major chunk of what remains after his attorney skims his fees to the Boys and Girls Club in Manhattan.

Zachary Stoltenberg 4 years, 10 months ago

down_the_river, you're an idiot. No one spends ten years in jail in order to get rich... Seriously, did you even think before you hit the "enter" button? Try it sometime.

bkreed1960 4 years, 10 months ago

down_the_river, maybe he was down on his luck because methods were used to coerce him into a confession. Nothing or no amount of money can make up for that time he lost with his family. I am with zstoltenberg on this that you should have thought before you posted that particular comment.

bearded_gnome 4 years, 10 months ago

Ralphralph, the key is they kept at him, inducing acute physical and mental fatigue. this plus deprivations of normal daily activities, maybe of food, and you can get people to admit to all kinds of things. this is not the first coerced confession including interrogators feeding the accused details.

deprivation plus fatigue is a very powerful combination. if he did not feel free to leave, obiously did not have services of a lawyer, and the "interrogation" took many hours, this is quite plausible.

unfortuately he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and maybe fit a description, or maybe not. personally I think that a law officer that deprives an american citizen of sch rights in this kind of process should do jail time, not what redlegs says above because LO's are human. but if an LEO [law enforcement officer] deprives a suspect of council and certain other basic rights, that officer should go to jail, ASAP.

I will add that overwhelmingly LEO's care very much about their fellow americans and their rights.

chasmo 4 years, 10 months ago

The cops who perpetrated this crime should have to do day for day what this guy did. So should the prosecutor. I really believe that many times all they care about is making a collar to promote their own political careers. Prosecutors are notorious for that.

chasmo 4 years, 10 months ago

down_the _river...... So a soldier is a" down on his luck schmo". Is that automatic? Are all soldiers "down on their luck Schmo's"? Someone called you an idiot. I think that is being too kind.

geekin_topekan 4 years, 10 months ago

So, coercion happens to a white guy and that is the factor that makes everybody believe this stuff happens now? It's been a reality for dark skinned people for generations. Its not a matter of if it could happen to you, but a matter of when, will it happen to you.

Jaylee 4 years, 7 months ago

so, you are assuming that everyone on here is white and that we all think nothing of dark skinned folk?

out there.

Donald Hall 4 years, 10 months ago

Down_the_river, I agree with the others. You are an idiot. Perhaps you are on the other end of the spectrum...those that are guilty and never successfully prosecuted.

Jonathan Becker 4 years, 10 months ago

Calling down the river an idiot is a demeaning to idiots.

There are words to describe such a person, but the LJW policies won't let us put those words here. Pick one.

Bossa_Nova 4 years, 10 months ago

what a tragedy. 10 yrs in prison, registering as a sex offender and losing the relationship with his eldest daughter, etc, etc. $7.5m isnt enough.

how many more are in prison who are innocent because of nasty interrogators?

taucetiman 4 years, 10 months ago

works out to about 62 bucks an hour ( I am counting 40 regular hours a week and 128 hours of overtime a week) [(40 x 62) + (62 x 128 x 1,5)] x 52.17 x 10 = ~7.5 mil

geekin_topekan 4 years, 10 months ago

I dunno consumer, statistics dont lie. The DOC by numbers would be a good start. Try some black literature. Very eye opening reading.

You assume much about me. Im flattered.

Jaylee 4 years, 7 months ago

it wasn't difficult to assess your stance. at least down the river's asinine comment was slightly relevant, unlike your and chasmo's posts which seemed to reflect a good deal of readily available angst. all three were just silly.

Liberty275 4 years, 10 months ago

How about we put the prosecutor, investigators and anyone else involved with his conviction in jail for the same amount of time he served. If that was the law, false imprisonment would drop to zero.

The money is a little high, but if that's what it takes to get the attention of the prosecutors' bosses, so be it.

Bob_Keeshan 4 years, 10 months ago

It is unfair to equate the amount of money he is receiving in a settlement to the time served.

The implications of this travesty have carried on well beyond the time that was served in prison. This travesty has labeled him as a sex offender as well.

The Wichita Eagle reported, "Had the case gone to trial, the memo said, Lowery's claim would have exceeded "$35 million plus substantial attorney fees.""

Read more: http://www.kansas.com/news/crime-courts/story/1170383.html#ixzz0fKdQ3Gpz

In other words, Riley County got off cheap.

K_Verses_The_World 4 years, 10 months ago

Standing next to me in this lonely crowd, Is a man who swears he's not to blame. All day long I hear him shout so loud, Crying out that he was framed. I see my light come shining From the west unto the east. Any day now, any day now, I shall be released.

Bob Dylan - I Shall Be Released

MissinLawrence 4 years, 10 months ago

Question: Since he was wrongfully convicted and he registered as a sex offender, how long (or does?) it take for his name to be removed from the sex offender list?

seriouscat 4 years, 10 months ago

Guy seems to have a good attitude considering what happened to him. I wonder how many innocent people have been put to death because of such nonsense.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 10 months ago

"Ralphralph, the key is they kept at him, inducing acute physical and mental fatigue. this plus deprivations of normal daily activities, maybe of food, and you can get people to admit to all kinds of things. this is not the first coerced confession including interrogators feeding the accused details."

But torturing suspected terrorists gets nothing but reliable information, right, BG?

K_Verses_The_World 4 years, 10 months ago

A corrupt witness mocks at justice, and the mouth of the wicked gulps down evil. Proverbs 19:28

Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly. Leviticus 19:15

jafs 4 years, 10 months ago

The questioning should have stopped the moment he asked for a lawyer - I believe that is the law.

hannahss 4 years, 10 months ago

Very much the same thing happened to a friend. He went to prison and will be registered as a sex offender for the rest of his life. No confession was on tape, but the detective "wrote down what he said". Since then, he has been forced to "confess" over and over, to stay out of maximum security, to be released, and so on. There was no DNA to exonerate him. Because I continued to believe in him and to give him emotional support, I was subjected to persecution that most people won't even believe. The "justice" system is generally fair, but not infallible. There is little help if you are on the wrong side of allegations like this.

yellowhouse 4 years, 10 months ago

In the quest of achieveing true Justice, the end is not mere speculative knowledge of what needs to be done, or even what is, but rather the doing of it!

It is not just enough to believe in justice, it is in having the proof, we must endeavor to not only show it, we must possess it, and enforce it, or in the end take any necessary steps that can bring it forth through endurance.

A POEM ABOUT INJUSTICE

Behold Injustice, its burden great,

crushed beneith it's mighty weight

A losing battle, to undertake

And endure that weight for Freedoms sake!

OldEnuf2BYurDad 4 years, 10 months ago

"Shame on the Government and its agents."

NO, don't say that. Shame ONLY on the men who interrogated him. When we say things like "Shame on the Government and its agents" we are saying that we don't appreciate our system of government. I'm glad that I'm not in China or Turkey. Our system is actually very, very good. One or two knuckleheads in Mancrappy shouldn't make us hate our system of justice. It's not fair to the many, many good officers who do their jobs with honor, even to the risking of their own lives.

There needs to be a law that holds investigators and prosecutors to a standard like that of doctors. There is a point where someone needs to be held criminally liable for using such tactics. The men who did this should spend time behind bars. They knew they were wrong.

Danimal 4 years, 10 months ago

I agree OldEnough, I'm sure we wouldn't see as many fraudulent convictions if bad cops and scum bag D.A.s were looking at hard time for miscarriages of justice. Instead, I'm sure the people involved with this case probably finished out their careers and are all retired now. If I was Eddie, I would set aside a few hundred thousand of my dollars just to file suits against any of these individuals that are still alive. His life was ruined by these people, and they walked away from it clean, that bothers me.

lindseydoyle 4 years, 10 months ago

"I dunno consumer, statistics dont lie." Do you like statistics, Geekin Topekan? You didn't cite any. How about this one- according to the FBI about 30,000 white women are raped by black men per year. How many black women raped by white men? Usually zero.

Jaylee 4 years, 7 months ago

more readily available angst.

thanks, geekin!

Ronda Miller 4 years, 10 months ago

lindsey, really? And where are your supporting links to your comment about white males not raping black women? Ooops, a place where the sun don't shine?

BigPrune 4 years, 10 months ago

did his attorney get a percentage of the award money? don't they typically take half?

ralphralph 4 years, 10 months ago

I knew Barry a few decades ago and he was a great guy ... not suprising that he's a good lawyer (if there be such a thing!).

Jimo 4 years, 10 months ago

Obama has already led the way back in his Illinois statehouse days, pushing legislation to mandate videorecording of (some) police interrogations. How much more reasonable chance this guy would have had if a jury could have seen him browbeat in submission.

orbiter 4 years, 10 months ago

lindseydoyle, being a white supremacist coward, does not want to openly link to Stormfront.org, davidduke.org, or the other white nationalist sites that cite this statistic. and these sites of course do not have sources either.

FYI, lindseydoyle: statistics are not just numbers. now, this might be hard for a white supremacist ignoramus to understand (as evidenced by the forum posters on these sites), but: statistics are meaningless without cited sources. and you can't just say, "according to the FBI". that doesn't quite count. (but your posturing as though it means something is really quite hilarious.)

maybe if you would stop thinking that your skin color automatically makes you superior you would have a decent grasp on simple logic.

Jaylee 4 years, 7 months ago

agreed, orbitz!

people need to take their racism and shove it. sooooooo tired.

snoozey 4 years, 10 months ago

Not bad - thats $750,00 a year plus free food, lodging and unlimited sex.

anon1958 4 years, 10 months ago

down_the_river (Anonymous) says…

Holy cow! So any down on his luck schmo can confess to a crime, then turn around and sue the City for believing him?

Here is someone that is a perfect example of an uninformed moron.

Let us take for example the recent story of a 14 year old boy, whose sister was brutally murdered and the Chicago police who mentally tortured him into the false confession of committing the crime. This confession/torture was taped by the way and if you can listen to the entire thing without having your heart torn out, I decry you as an animal, but not the human kind. The boy was later exonerated by a match of DNA at the crime scene, girl's house, to a vagrant.

Now, while the police were torturing this boy in a perfectly legal interrogation they had told the parents that the boy was actually getting grief counseling at the time.

The story about this boy is true and most disturbingly of all not especially uncommon.

What we (those of us with more than silt for brains) have learned from the forensic DNA revolution is that confessions really are not a very reliable piece of evidence because of the way they are extracted. Of course this also means that all of the people that sold their soul, morals and love of the US Constitution to satan when they went along with the Bush administration's torture policy have doubly forsaken their humanity, kind of sucks to be them, but I guess they wont notice the difference.

While the justice system in the USA is unquestionably one of the best ever invented, it has several serious flaws that routinely imprison the innocent along with the guilty. Our system unfortunately has more than a few systemic and fundamental flaws.

Until those who investigate a crime are completely and utterly disentangled from prosecutors or other officials such as a sheriff or high level political appointee, (department/precinct commander etc.) there will continue to be the prosecution of suspects for ends other than justice, and the means to these ends will continue to shatter innocent lives.

Reuben Turner 4 years, 10 months ago

he should have got a house, money, fringe benefits for 5 years, on the city-state for whatever, and the millions. he has lost out on some serious time out here in the world. and if the truth be told all that he has recieved won't equal up to the time that passed by. pay the man and pay the man some more.

2tuff4u 4 years, 7 months ago

Believe me people you don't know how it is to get pulled out of your house at 12:30am and told you are under arrest for a statutory/sodomy rape. I just got out the hospital 2 after having a heart attack 2 days and I was being accused of such terrible crimes. The type of crime any man would feel not only ashamed because no one believed you, but the stories you hear about those who commit such crimes. There are always going to be those that believe you did these things but I know in my heart that the perpetrator will be caught and hung by his balls. Then I will get back on here and let you know that what you all said about me was nothing but lies but the emotions I can understand. I feel for the child for she has something that will be with her the rest of her life and I pray to God for her. But it is medically impossible for me to pass on a noncureable disease and i not have it. I am sorry but you have the wrong person again. Also to the family I am praying for you. I pray you keep following the outcome because God has the last word. Whats done in the dark will come to light. I didnt want to write this but I know how easy it is to get accused of something you didnt do and have to spend time for it. You ask God over and over why? I didnt do this I dont deserve this but all you can do is live with it until the truth comes out. Thank God it came out for you my friend, Praise God! I too know about how faith can keep you. I am happy for you and I feel for you at the same time because all that time is lost.

JusticeProject 3 years, 3 months ago

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