Colorado State University - Pueblo concludes fall Distinguished Speaker Series Nov. 10
PUEBLO – Colorado State University-Pueblo’s Distinguished Speakers Series will conclude its fall schedule on Nov. 10 with single mother turned lawyer Betty Anne Waters. Her life story is depicted in the recently released film starring Oscar winner Hilary Swank, Conviction, now playing in theatres.
Waters presentation will begin at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 10 in the Occhiato University Center Ballroom. This event is free and open to the public.
In 1983, Betty Anne Waters watched as her brother was sentenced to life without parole for a murder and robbery he swore he didn’t commit. When his appeals were shot down and funds for lawyers dwindled, Betty Anne decided to go to college and later, law school to get the credentials necessary to prove what she always knew: Kenneth Waters was innocent. Waters will tell her incredible true story of how persistence and determination fueled by an unbending belief in her brother’s innocence lead to his exoneration in 2001.
In 1980, Katharina Brow was murdered in trailer home in Ayer, Massachusetts. Kenneth Waters knew Brow from the time he was a child, and later, she frequented the diner where he worked. Kenneth was questioned initially, and then, two years later was convicted for the murder when two former girlfriends testified he’d admitted to the crime. Although a police fingerprint analyst had cleared Waters, this information was not shared with prosecutors or defense attorneys. Because Kenneth’s blood type (O Negative shared by 48% of the population) matched the type found at the scene, the evidence seemingly added up. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in 1983 for first degree murder and armed robbery.
Kenneth’s family members were in shock and never doubted his innocence. They said he had worked a double-shift the night of the slaying, and appeared in court the next morning to answer for another charge. Yet he not only lost his case, he lost every appeal early on. It was then that Betty Anne began her passionate pursuit to free her brother from prison.
In 1999, she contacted the Innocence Project, which was founded by Barry C. Scheck and Peter J. Neufeld at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University to assist prisoners who could be proved innocent through DNA testing. At the time, Betty Anne had already located the biological evidence and was trying to have it subjected to DNA testing. With the Innocence Project’s help, the male DNA found at the scene was ultimately tested, and it was proved that it was not Kenneth’s DNA – nor was he the perpetrator. The results were examined by the Massachusetts State Police Crime Laboratory and they concurred with FSA's findings. Kenneth was exonerated 2001; sadly six months after his release he was killed in a freak accident.
Betty Anne Waters lives in New England and continues her work in freeing wrongfully convicted criminals, as well as fighting for the rights of prison inmates.
The Distinguished Speakers Series features eminent national or international speakers who contribute to current thought in social or political activities, in the arts and sciences, or other realm of contemporary significance by individuals who have distinguished themselves in their fields. The series is co-sponsored by the Office of Student Activities, the Student Fee Governing Board, the Associated Students’ Government, and the Diversity Resource Center.
For more information or an updated schedule, contact the CSU-Pueblo Office of Student Life at 549-2586 or visit www.colostate-pueblo.edu/studentactivities.