Convicting the Innocent
DNA Exonerations Database

Debra Sheldon

First NameDebra
Last NameSheldon
Year of Conviction1990
Year of Exoneration2009
Testing inculpated culpritNon-Cold Hit
State of ConvictionNebraska
Trial, Bench Trial, or Guilty PleaGuilty Plea
Type of CrimeMurder
Death SentenceNo
Gender of ExonereeFemale
Race of exonereeWhite
Types of evidence at trial
  • Confession
  • Forensic Evidence
  • Informant
Were non-public facts alleged?Yes
Type of Forensic Evidence
  • Serology
Types of Flawed Forensics
  • Invalid
Reason why invalid(1) Masking
Brief Quote / Description of Testimony

Fingerprint and hair comparison excluded defendant. Analyst testified in Joseph White’s trial that serology was consistent with two co-defendants, without providing any statistics or explaining that those findings were also entirely consistent with the victim and none could be excluded.

Examples of Non-Public or Corroborated Facts and Inconsistencies

● Described general layout of victim’s apartment ● Described involvement of others in a rape ● Described that victim had been found with heard wrapped tightly in a scarf, wearing a blue nightgown, with towels wrapped around wrists, and with wrists broken BUT also denied having any independent knowledge of the victim’s residence and did not describe victim’s hand’s having been bound

Quotes from law enforcement testimony

Guilty Plea – No trial. But testified in Joseph White trial. Deputy Sheriff testified: “Did you tell her anything about the Helen Wilson homicide on April 14, 1989? A. No. Q. Were you present during the whole period of time of the interviews? A. Yes, sir. Q. Did anyone else tell her anything about the Helen Wilson homicide to your knowledge? A. No, sir.”

Interrogation RecordedVideotape of part of interrogation
Jailhouse informant, Co-defendant, Incentivized WitnessCD
Examples of Non-Public or Corroborated Facts and Inconsistencies● Non-public facts described in false confession Appendix concerning other “Beatrice Six” defendants Dean, Taylor, and Winslow
Highest level reachedNR

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