“They took fifteen years of my life,” says Floyd Bledsoe of his wrongful imprisonment.
KANSAS CITY, KA – Attorneys for Oskaloosa native Floyd Bledsoe filed suit in federal court today against Jefferson County law enforcement officers and others who participated in a profoundly unfair investigation and trial that resulted in Mr. Bledsoe’s wrongful conviction for a crime committed by his late brother, Thomas Bledsoe.
In November 1999, fourteen-year-old Camille Arfmann was raped and brutally murdered. The actual perpetrator, Thomas Bledsoe, confessed to the crime; turned himself in; surrendered his gun, which had been used to shoot Camille; and led law enforcement officers to her body, which had been buried in a trash dump on the property where Tom lived with his parents. Floyd, who had nothing to do with the crime, had a clean record and a verified alibi, corroborated by a time-stamped receipt, phone records, and scores of witnesses. Despite the evidence of Tom’s guilt and Floyd’s innocence, a number of criminal justice players framed Floyd for the crime and railroaded him with a deeply flawed investigation and trial.
The lawsuit alleges that investigators coerced Tom into blaming his brother, improperly shaped Tom’s testimony to fit facts emerging from the investigation, and silenced Tom when he repeatedly tried to come clean. The lawsuit further alleges that law enforcement officers deliberately concealed and suppressed the evidence that would have proven Floyd’s innocence and Tom’s guilt, while fabricating additional evidence against Floyd to secure his wrongful conviction.
Bledsoe was freed from the maximum security section of Lansing Correctional Facility on Dec. 8, 2015 thanks to the work of Tricia Bushnell, Legal Director of the MIP, and her colleagues, as well as Alice Craig and others from the Paul E. Wilson Project for Innocence & Post-Conviction Remedies at the University of Kansas School of Law. In 2015, they obtained DNA testing that showed that Tom was a likely source for the sperm found in Camille’s body at the time of her death, while excluding Floyd. Shortly thereafter, Tom committed suicide, leaving behind a series of suicide notes confessing to the crime, explaining that he had tried to come clean many times, and blaming the “the Jefferson County police and Jim Vanderbilt” for overpowering him. Following the DNA test results and Tom’s suicide, a judge overturned Floyd’s conviction and set him free in December 2015.
“Floyd Bledsoe suffered in prison for fifteen years for a rape and murder he was entirely innocent of. Meanwhile, defendants spent those fifteen years fully aware of his innocence,” said his attorney Russell Ainsworth, of the Chicago-based firm of Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law. “Nothing can repair the damage they inflicted on Floyd, but this lawsuit will begin to hold them accountable for their misdeeds.”
Seven current or former law enforcement officers, a former prosecutor, and a defense attorney are named in today’s suit, including Randy Carreno, Troy Frost, Orin Turner, Robert Poppa, Roy Dunnaway, Jim Vanderbilt, George Johnson, Jim Woods, Terry Morgan, Michael Hayes, Jeffrey Herrig, in addition to other unnamed officers of the Jefferson County Police Department and Kansas Bureau of Investigation.
In addition to Mr. Ainsworth, Mr. Bledsoe is represented by attorneys Ruth Brown, Theresa Kleinhaus and Jon Loevy of Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law, one of the largest civil rights law firms in the country with offices in Chicago and Boulder. Loevy & Loevy has won more multi-million dollar jury verdicts than any other civil rights law firm in the entire country over the past decade.
The Midwest Innocence Project is a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to the investigation, litigation and exoneration of wrongfully convicted men and women in Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Iowa, and Nebraska. It was founded at the University of Missouri – Kansas City (UMKC) School of Law in 2000 as a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation and operates today as an independent organization in partnership with the University of Missouri (Kansas City) and (Columbia) Schools of Law, the University of Kansas and local legal communities.
A copy of the suit, Floyd S. Bledsoe vs. Jefferson County, KA, et al., No. 2:16-cv-02296, is available here.