Conviction is a true story of a sister’s devotion to her brother. When Kenny Waters was arrested for murder and sentenced to life in prison, his sister made a choice to dedicate her life to overturning the murder conviction.
The case of Kenny Waters
May 21, 1980, Katherina Brow was stabbed to death in her home in Ayer, Massachusetts. Kenny Waters became a suspect because he was her neighbor, and because he worked at the local diner, where she was a regular. Waters had a strong alibi, his clothes and body was examined for bloodstains and he also passed a stress test. He didn’t hear anything for two years, when he suddenly was brought back into court in May 1983. A man named Robert Osborne, who was living with Waters’ ex-girlfriend; Brenda Marsh, had come forward to the police and offered to give information in exchange for money. Osborne said Marsh had told him that Waters confessed the murder of Brow. Marsh was interrogated by the police, which allegedly threatened to charge her as an accessory to murder and take away her children if she didn’t support Osborne’s statement. Finally she told the police that Waters had come home with a scratch on his face, on the morning of the murder. This led to Waters murder charge.
Even though Waters had been excluded as a suspect, after fingerprints analyzes during the investigation, these records were hidden from the prosecutors. In addition to Marsh, the court relied on the statements of two more witnesses; Roseanna Perry, another ex-girlfriend of Waters told the police that Waters had said something about stabbing a woman and stealing from her. This statement was made after three hours of interrogation and threats of arrest. A friend and former co-worker of Waters said Waters had sold her a ring that had belonged to the victim. Workers from Waters’ previous work place stated that a knife similar to the one found at the crime scene had gone missing. The knife was, however manufactured by the company where the victim’s husband worked.
A forensic analyst testified about test results on blood from the crime scene. Blood types O and B were found in the victim’s home. The victim had type B and both Waters and the victim’s husband were type O. The analyst also said that three hairs found on the crime scene, did not match the victim or Waters.
Waters raised an alibi defense, the same that he had stated two years earlier, saying that he was at work the night of the murder. However, the time card had gone missing. It had been revealed that the police confirmed Waters’ work schedule during the investigation, but this wasn’t presented in trial.
May 11, 1983, Kenny Waters was convicted for the murder of Katherina Brow, and sentenced to life in prison.
Waters appealed the conviction several times, but the police department was not cooperative in providing complete documents from the investigation, and so the appeals were getting nowhere. Water’s sister, Betty Anne Waters, put herself through law school to prove her brother’s innocence. In 1999 she finally managed to locate the Type O blood evidence. She began working with “the Innocence Project” and together they reached an agreement with the Middlesex County District Attorney’s office to have a private lab do the DNA testing. The result proved that Waters was not the perpetrator.
In March 2001, after almost 18 years in prison, Waters was released. The prosecutors considered retrying him, and a new investigation was opened. For the first time, the Ayer police turned over the complete records. June 19, 2001, the District Attorney’ office dropped all charges, and Waters was officially a free man.
The motion picture was brilliant! I think not hearing about the case of Kenny Waters prior to watching the movie, made the experience better in the way that I didn’t know the outcome of the story. The actors showed great credibility, and Hilary Swank was especially convincing in her role as Betty Anne Waters. You can see the trailer here: Conviction
I would recommend this motion picture to anyone! I was incredible moved by this story, and how it was portrayed. You instantly gain empathy for the charming character of Kenny Waters. Betty Anne’s fight against the legal system seemed impossible at times, and it was a release of emotions when justice finally won. I left the theatre with mixed emotions; Angry that an innocent man can be imprisoned for almost 20 years, sad that he lost such a big part of his life and also sad that Betty Anne had to give up her own life in order for her brother’s conviction to be overturned. Life doesn’t always a happy ending… we might want to believe so, but we can all use a wake up call sometimes.
After the showing, there was a panel of representatives from the Innocent Project who shared a story similar to Kenny Waters’. In the movie, Berry Scheck, the co-director of the Innocence Project, says “If they had death penalty in Massachusetts you would have been dead by now”. That was a real aphorism. Kenny Waters tried several times to take his own life. Knowing you’re innocent, and not being believed by the people of the system is something no one can imagine except those who’ve lived it themselves… and that’s not few. From a quick glance at the Innocent Projects’ website, I learned that a study showed that between 2,3 % and 5 % of all prisoners in the U.S. are innocent. This could be translated into a number of approximately 50 000 – 100 000. To get involved and learned more about these cases, go to: The Innocence Project