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Wrongly-convicted Neb. man seeks to garnish wages of officials

BEATRICE, Neb.  -- One of six people wrongly convicted of murder and awarded more than $28 million has asked authorities to garnish the wages and seize property of two law enforcement officials who helped convict him.

James Dean, one of the so-called Beatrice Six, filed a request late last week asking that the wages of Gage County Reserve Deputy Wayne Price and former Deputy Berdette Searcey be garnished, the Lincoln Journal Star reported Thursday. Dean also asked the U.S. Marshals Service to seize property from them.

DNA evidence is not always infallible

A federal jury in July awarded $28.1 million to Dean and five others wrongly convicted of the 1985 rape and killing of 68-year-old Helen Wilson, of Beatrice. The six spent a combined 75 years in prison until DNA evidence cleared them and instead pointed to an Oklahoma City man who died in 1992 and had been in Beatrice the day Wilson was killed.

The six sued Gage County and law enforcement officials - including Searcey and Price - for violating their civil rights.

Dean’s share of the award is $2.7 million.

An attorney for Gage County filed an emergency motion Tuesday asking to put a hold on enforcing the garnishments and property seizures until a ruling on the county’s appeal of the judgment is made.

Searcey retired from the sheriff’s office on Wednesday. He told the Journal Star he had been thinking about retiring for months and said his decision had nothing to do with the recent request for his wages to be garnished.

A message left Thursday for Price at this home by The Associated Press was not immediately returned. 

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