After spending more than 15 years in prison for a murder he did not commit, Floyd Bledsoe decided to sue police officers and others who he says were responsible for the now-admitted miscarriage of justice. Bledsoe, who was convicted of kidnapping and murdering his sister-in-law, was released from prison in 2015 after his brother, Tom, committed suicide, leaving behind a note admitting to being the killer. The information in the note also fit DNA testing which implicated Floyd’s brother in the slaying.
Bledsoe claims in his lawsuit that various sheriff’s officers and others conspired to frame him for the murder, including fabricating evidence allegedly demonstrating his guilt, and withholding evidence in his favor.
After committing the murder, Tom Bledsoe called his father and his pastor, confessed to both, and turned himself in to police. After being jailed, however, Tom’s story changed. He claimed at that point that his brother Floyd was the killer. Floyd was convicted in 2000 of murder and related crimes and sentenced to life in prison.
In 2012, the Paul E. Wilson Project for Innocence & Post-Conviction Remedies at Kansas University School of Law got involved in the case. They were granted permission to conduct DNA testing on the sexual assault kit. The testing showed DNA consistent with Tom Bledsoe. They also discovered an agreement among the county sheriff, the prosecutor, and the Kansas Bureau of investigation not to do any DNA testing in the case.
In addition to admitting to the killing, Tom Bledsoe’s suicide note stated that the prosecuting attorney had ordered him to lie and implicate his brother in the killing. The conviction was vacated in 2015, and the prosecution then dismissed the charges against Floyd.
The recent legal battle was a claim by some of the defendants that they were entitled to “qualified immunity” in the federal lawsuit brought by Floyd for seeking damages for his wrongful conviction. This month, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the officers’ argument for immunity, and their claim that the case should be dismissed.
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