« Reveal

Trial by fire

2017-02-04 | 🔗

In 1988, two powerful explosions shook Kansas City, Missouri, killing six firefighters. Nine years later, five people were convicted of arson and sent to prison for life – but were they innocent?

Reveal investigates problems in the case and whether federal agents pressured witnesses to lie. This month, one of the defendants will make his case for freedom before a federal judge.

Head over to revealnews.org for more of our reporting.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Hey, it is your favorite host in all of pod custom. Now for the rest of the year, I'm gonna be asking you to join us by becoming a member of reveal reveal is all about going deep, pulling on threads, telling stories that matter for more than three years now reveal has been fighting a lawsuit. That's been jeopardizing our very existence of restoring did about an organization called planet aid. Our story raises serious questions about whether international aid was actually reaching the people. It was intended to help and what's more, our story was truthful and we stand by it. We believe it is our duty to fight attacks like this. The fighting a lawsuit comes at a huge costs are legal fees alone totalled more than seven million dollars. Luckily, we have pro bono legal support to help our in house counsel, but it still takes significant resources, resources that should be used to do more public service journalists. This kind of investigative
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projects the Kansas City Missouri, had seen in years a ten Six laying corridor running self from the heart of the city to wine. Existing road? The construction company brought in huge earth movers thousands of pounds of explosives to blow Still the limestone hillsides then early in the morning of November, twenty nine nineteen a call comes into no one more What am I to security guards working at the construction site, around the line by everyone. Would you like you?
the night when one operator quickly notifies the fire department and they rush accrue to the scene. Bumper truck forty oil on the fire fighters spot a pickup truck and flames. In a second rate, you are under way to arson. Forty one EAST Carson on your car with information to made the explosives it's sending out of construction area to pick up the explosives are packed into two construction trailers. Another fire truck arrives pumper number thirty, as both crews begin to battle the flames Battalion chief reports of powerful blast, Well, sir, your report, an explosion, extra garnish empire, regarded amateurs and for their firefighters and our way, I don't know any of our car a quarter of a mile away.
We already know about that everyone. I went eighty seven currently a large explosion, One answer: bumper forty one, a bumper there's, no answer from either crew authorities cordon off the area forty minutes past then. A second explosion rocks the silent, breaking gaslights line and shattering building foundations miles away emergency crews. Today there and news reporters arrive. As the morning. Sun reveals a charred landscape. The only thing left out of the two fire trucks on this The aim is the front end. A born pamper. Everything else is gone again, no about twelve thirty. This afternoon gender firefighters rolled in their job was the hardest one today to bring out the remains of six of their friends.
Everything was pretty much levelled within. Probably a hundred yards radius victors in is a retire Kansas City, homicide detective. He was at the scene that day in addition to the bombs, but they also had cadaver dogs. Looking for individuals that may have been blown apart, six firefighters died in the explosions. The youngest was thirty one, the oldest fifty seven. It was the worst tragedy in the history of the Kansas City, fire department. This was a huge, huge crime that took place and there's gonna be a lot of time and effort put into finding the right people that did it
nine years later, five people were convicted, not murder, but for aiding and abetting arson that led to the deaths of the fire fighters. Federal judge sends them to life in prison without the possibility of pearl, but from beginning the case was troubled. First, there was no physical evidence linking the suspects to the crime and there was conflicting testimony, alot of it from convicted felons and jailhouse reports to this day Thirty years after the explosions, the force of defendants maintain their answers then alone some of the very people who helped put them behind bars question the verdict, this issue as taking on a new sense of urgency in less than two weeks.
We will judge will decide whether the great freedom to one of the defendants- we're gonna, spend the next hour on this case, and our guide is reveals: Jenna, Welsh, Asia, hello, so generous. You go up right outside cans, city. So where were you when all this happened? I was home, but when I woke up this morning! It was all over the news. I mean the blast. People felt them for miles these explosions, weren't bombs, authorities believe the explosions happen by accident when the fires were set and they spread trailers that were packed with splices construction company. You know they had them on the site to widen the highway, the type of explosive with explosive with which the combination of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil. Now I knew what ammonium nitrate was. I grew up in farm country, it's a fertilizer, but when you mix that with fuel oil it becomes info, which is used in mining or in this case excavating, and it can be deadly info. That's what Timothy Mcveigh I used to block the federal building in Oklahoma City yeah. I mean he built up.
Amusing about five thousand pounds of info. Now, if you multiply that by ten, that's the amount of info that exploded in Kansas City that morning, ok, so all this happened almost what thirty years ago, why go back, The case now, we'll asteroid directed a play about the explosion and its aftermath as part of a project reveal called story works where we create theatre pieces based on investigative reporting and for this project we worked with MIKE Mcgraw MIKE, is a veteran best to get a reporter in Kansas City area. He worked for the Kansas City STAR for many years, and now he works for Kansas City. Public television and makes reporting has raised serious questions about the handling of the investigation and after the play, we decided to dig or one of the things we found is that there are still scars that haven't healed for the five people who were sent.
In twenty years ago and their families and, of course, for the families of the fallen firefighters. So just take aspects back to the start. I'd like to begin in downtown Kansas City, a founded, commemorates fallen firefighters, including the six who died that day, Gerald Hollerin James covert and Junior Thomas fry lose their herd. Robert recording and Michael Olden, one of those words adored rob, was all bill. I've come here with captain juggle Eddie Joe knew all of them. Even worked with some of their fathers. He's made it his mission to keep their memory alive with Joseph side because it overlooks game suited the statues. There were looking at the call in the sculptor world a heroic size, so, let's just
looked at larger than men to retired and ninety ninety four? He has trouble breathing and can't stand for very long, and we are fighting for me helped raise more than three hundred thousand dollars to get the memorial belt and when we open the phone we closed the streets, and we had to show we had far better if we had music, we copy to drinks and it's quite a celebration building the memorial for the fire fighters was a lot easier than finding the people responsible for their deaths. Remember there was no the goal evidence no eye witnesses. Early. Kansas City police started. Looking at a group of suspects from a working class neighbourhood near the construction site called marble, three of them were members of the same family. The shepherds Brian Shepherd was
Seventeen at the time he had said RO brushes with the law. In fact, during the time please, for investigating the explosions. Brain was convicted for dealing a bicycle and violating probation range. For it is in jail already serving local media started reporting that he was a suspect in the firefighters case. He was scheduled to be released next week, but investigators and prosecutors will reportedly charge him with arson and before he walks. So what was the evidence against Brian Shepherd? To me? had met him in jail, said the brain bragged about starting the fires and based on their testimony to stay Missouri indicted Brian on six counts of murder, but within a couple of months the case fell apart. One of the informants A man named John Driver said on television that he'd lied to the police, but right up
inmates said the police wanted a conviction badly and promised to reduce his jail sentence. Broader point what I want There are a lot of pressure down. I want on jarred brine ship not been in jail that long when the prosecutors and dropped the charges, Tom Jackman covers crime and courts for the Washington Post back then he was a young reporter. With the Kansas City times they dismissed, six murder charges against the guy they had thought had killed the firefighters. This was a gigantic let down for the entire city. Suddenly they had nothing, but nobody. There were back to square zero. Brian shepherd was a free man, but he was still in the media. Spotlight be always just back from the gate. Public way has been this man, Ryan jabbered argued Wrigley by a jail cell. Might those charges were quickly drop in Shepherd
An exclusive television interview maintains he's not capable of a crime, but he says, since his name has been associated with the explosion. His life has been scarred. I had a friend of mine looks kind of like me and got junk, but I'm going to Westport, a couple, firefighters, that's for sure, jumped in being a map. Is I thought it was me, even though the charges some were dropped. Brian was still a suspect. Investigators were canvassing his neighborhood looking for evidence linking him and his family to the explosion time. We knew what family of persons did the crime. All we needed was little love evidence fire. Captain Jugglery chaired the city's arson taskforce. It included local least the FBI and agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, tobacco and firearms. They set up a hotline for tips; they plastered reward posters everywhere and women. It signs. Thirty foot long and twelve foot high and we put him on all the bridges- and I mean
it big enough did if you could drive by fifty five miles an hour. You can read it juggle. Adding an ATM ancient named David Trail brought the case to the attention of the tv show. Unsolved. Mysteries was just this was six years after Shepherds first case was dismissed the during their case. Room cares most notorious unsolved cry so aired in February of ninety ninety five. There is currently a fifty thousand dollar reward being offered in this case, if you have it information. Please contact the Bureau of Alcohol, tobacco and fire Kansas City, Missouri Police Department Collar toll freedom. Remember you need not give your name. Jugglery says as soon as the programme ended, the telephone started running. We had over Three hundred leads that night and things started happening,
leaves were coming in from ordinary citizens. There are also coming in from jails in prisons. Did you get on the phone for three days? Only people gone talking about Y know this out of jail. Wouldn T said this another: when you, the number of witnesses who were either in trouble or already in jail and the power that the federal government had to make all that go away. It's just stunning Its next on reveal from the centre for investigative reporting. In p, from the centre for investigative reporting and p r ex this is reveal a mallet,
The explosion secured six kids city Firefox. Ninety mediate happened at the sight of a major road expansion project. One theory was that it was sabotage, set the fires that triggered. Explosions was set by operatives of locally union whose workers were shut out of the project, but you years went by and no one was behind bars, so fiddle investigators shift gears. It focused on a working class neighbourhood, a few miles from the construction site Marbre. They developed new theory that five people from Marlborough went to the site to steal tools and started the fires to divert security guards to build their case ages, set up a tip.
But they also solicited helpful jailhouse informants. They offer them reward money. Incense reductions reveals Jenna, Welsh, picks up our story. The western Missouri Correctional Centre sits in the middle of farm country halfway between Kansas City and the Nebraska state line, the prey the circle of concrete buildings surrounded by layers of razor wire, I'm with MIKE Mcgraw make as a veteran reporter with Kansas City. Public television he's been investigating the fire fighters case for the past decade. We came to the prison to meet an inmate named Alan battered Alan, better has been around town for years. He spent probably most, his recent years in prison easily for drug offences he's been a voice. It'll source for me and for others ollinger up in Barbara and with close friends with brain shepherd, one of the suspects. In the case
We go into a small meeting room, a guard olenin and leave us alone never tried to see you where you were willing to talk, ok, well, you can either Alan says he was in the same prison back and ninety ninety five. That's! When investigators came looking for witnesses to testify against Brian Shepard and for other suspects they put up reward poster in jails and presents all over Kansas and Missouri when they show that you can get off your sins or get a reward. You know I'll. Take you to get on the phone, three days or so many criminals call and talk about why? No, this, I was in jail with, and he said this at another. Never once have I seen any kind of help
being requested from inside Boardman creation. They ve never done anything like that. How incense he didn't call the hotline. I've got a visit anyway. Many visits from the local police and from the ATM It says they came to him with an offer to supply the grand jury hearing. Will let you out of prison, justify the at the trial help, get a conviction and a luxury that fifty thousand now war will put you in which direction programme will send you anywhere in the world stage and want to go Alan says investigators wanted him to confirm a story. One a balanced friends had told them. Please that he and together had seen Brian Shepard and some other people speeding from the construction site just after the explosion, but Alan says he was it
home at night and told the investigators. The story wasn't true. He says that's when they came after him. They personally came at me threatened in jail for withhold navigators threatened to take my girlfriends dollar forbidden mother and set mob bond the main alors set my trial day bag for three years, even though they know they didn't have anything all me she's geysers, Take your life away from you lotta people knows as possible. Alan still wouldn't testify against Brian Shepherd, but prosecutors found some leverage. Allen was facing charges for stealing a car, a car that he driven across the state line. The federal prosecutes, in the fire fighters case. Had the charges upgraded, suddenly, Allen was facing time in federal prison unless he cooperated. At that point, MIKE Mcgraw says the judge in the case scolded the government for pressuring Ellen
to testify. During the hearing in which Alan bettered stolen car case was taken from state court to federal court, the judge turned a bastard and he said look, I'm sure the federal Sentencing Commission would never. Ever in their wildest dreams anticipated. The government would pull something like this. Then the judge turned to the federal prosecutor and said you're just prosecuting this guy, because Don't tell you the story that you wanting to tell even called the prosecutor out again and said: do you think Maybe that Alan is telling the truth and you're witness could be the one. The sly instead of presentation, The judge gave Alan probation investigators we're having a hard time, find incredible witnesses all this us. Had criminal records several had drug and alcohol problems so did a lot of their friends and acquaintances, and MIKE says these were the people the government needed remember, the federal investigators had no physical evidence in this.
They had no dna, they had no eye witnesses and three of the five suspects pass. Polygraph tests, The government ended up relying on statements from people who said they heard the suspects admitting their involvement in the crime these witnesses. Were often pretty sketchy and in fact, the prosecutor, at one point plots hatch in Hell aren't witnessed by angels kind of explaining why some of these witnesses were troublesome in the middle of all, this intrigue was David. True an eighty have special agent and one of the lead investigators in the case, true, was approaching. Retirement after twenty six years at the bureau and was highly decorated, some witnesses interviewed by true described him as persistent, but polite others told me he was threatening and manipulative testing testing one two three testing went to further record.
February nineteenth. Ninety ninety five micrograms got a hold of this recording its approximately nine thirty five p m. This special agent David, our true bureau, alcohol, tobacco and firearms. This is one of the most important interview, of the entire investigation. True is in a small interview room at a local jail with several other people forwarded, Norton, view with Darlin Edwards Rigour our her knowledge about the firefighters incident. Which occurred in November. Nineteen eighty eight darling living with Frank Shepherd Brian Shepherds uncle it's Sunday evening. The end of a tense weekend for dark What iraqi once again early tell us what you know about what happened that night after I come home, I come home, he was
What are you why we would cast fighting he passed out? Don't leave his waved her right to an attorney. She tells the agency story hours before the explosions. She was at home with Frank. She says Brain Shepard and his friend richer brown walk to her house to ask for a ride to convenience, store. They told her. They were for willing with their truck near the can. Actions and ran out of gas Darlene says she drove Brian and richer to the store and they feel their gas can check it out and put your. Why had, then she tells the agents they went to the construction site, but when they got there there was no So what do you need gas war cry? You know Khazars site Elsie, no card right. We need gas, for Go on all these well, we'll start a fire dizzy and over here will start a fire we hear so other We can be over here ass, a man s not cool because you don't know where these dont, you know explosive, because there s a vague some actually there. Close it and you don't know where there and I'm not hungry.
My ass blood, so they will be used against lean to set the bar for it and in order to Darlene leads to the agents. The brain and Richard wanted to divert the attention of the security guards, so they could steal some equipment that was twenty. Two years ago I talked to Darlene recently and here's what she has to say now called up. You could a story. I could think God I don't come on. Darlene says this: She told investigators was made up and didn't even makes sense the constructions it was only two blocks from the store, so why with Brian and Richard work more than a mile to darlings house only to have her take them back to the store to get gas. I'm not think anybody suitably that stupid story of waste is a better, but they were like. Ok, that's good!
you put up there now what we all like. Ok, they said they want to start a fire by the blood. So I dislike took I like three atm darling says to understand why she lied to the eighty. If you need to go back a couple of days, a t F agents had asked her to come to their office. To answer questions about the case. They were to be cautious about the fire fighters Ridgeway, you know who did it. I said, though. Well we If you now, we ve had worked it. You know what I said, but I don't know I can't help. It was something like dost, Thou Darlene says the agents told her that brain Shepard and richer Brown were responsible for the arson and that she knew about it, Darlene stood that she was home, embed that night and didn't know anything. So then, investigators lowered the boom they'd secretly recorded her selling eleven grams of crack cocaine. Darlene was arrested and put in jail. They were kept competition. What about thirty? Your facing forty years in prison? Are you would put up? There is a site that you want your water Toby. I hate it.
Do they want to go home to your kid? After a weekend behind bars, Darlene says she sat down with eighty F agents and told him the story about driving Brian and Richard to the construction site. I get one of the gale. I gave a big locked up like that before, doubtless very they kept me it solitary. They discover myself as they would. Even let me make a phone call itself after I spoke to the allied. I wanted to go home. Darlene eventually recanted her statement, but it was too late. Prosecutors use the recording to help indict brain
shepherd his friend richer Brown, his uncles, skippin, Frank, Shepard and darling herself. Five people have been indicted in the nineteen eighty eight firefighters explosion. There are new convicted of this felony. Each deferment could be subject to a maximum sentence of life in prison without role, and I too, fifty thousand dollar fine. The trial again in January. Ninety ninety seven, the prosecutions most important witness, was darling. Edwards own daughter, Becky Edwards had been eleven years old at the time of the explosions. She told the court that a week before the blasts, all the defendants were together in the kitchen getting high and making plans to steal equipment from the construction site. Reporter Tom Jackman was in the courtroom covering the trial for the Kansas City Times Becky Edwards. As a very tense, because she was obviously terrified she's. Now a teenager
eighteen years old, this is eight years later, and she was just terrified that she was incriminating, her mother, her mothers, boyfriend his boyfriends brother- and these are the two fellows that she knew well. She was on the stand in federal court, testifying against her family that definitely linchpin moment in the trial, in which here is a witness that puts off people in one room, Darlene. Remember sitting in the courtroom in shock ass, she listened to her daughter following bawling our eyes out. I was cry. She was scared. He was hurt while she was up there thing what she was saying and I like he's going euro and a worried about my kid over the whole thing was like crazy
After two days, the jurors handed down a unanimous verdict guilty later. The judge sentenced each of the defendants to life in prison with no possibility of pearl, including Darlene she's, an inmate of a prison in Texas. Where shall likely be for the rest of her life? Debbie Mcclarnon was married to Robert Mccartney and one of the fire fighters who died in the blast. She says the verdict came in relief that I thought it was a long time coming. I really never thought it was going to happen. Debbie spoke at the sentencing hearing. I looked at each one of us
perpetrators in the eyes, if, as I was on the stand and spoke of all six men and other family second leaved good lives to begin with. Like all of these men that were in their communities and the good things and help people all the time. These people were not that time people. Twenty years later, there are conflicting emotion, for the relatives and friends of the convicted Becky Edwards, whose testimony helped convict or mother wouldn t talk to us. In fact, she hasn't talked about the case with anyone in years, not reporters not even her mothers lawyer, so went to see Doris Clark, she's Becky's, grandmother darlings mother.
Lives, the nose Yola about two hours, south of Kansas City. We made outside of thrift store where she volunteers is my granddaughter me and I was on the phone, what power without Becky how's she doing he Doris takes us inside to enact room should never been on witness stand. I mean she should never been called as far as I'm concerned, so she yeah she she had a rough doors as federal agents, including David true of the eighty F, manipulated her family and then betrayed them. We felt that we had support for my tia by kept telling us a darling was innocent. She says the agents treated like a queen during the trial, even paying for rooms at a local hotel. She and her husband were so invited to the eighty office during breaks for doughnuts and coffee? It would just like you go into a friends house said entertain and then we'll go to court according to Doris federal agents were also paying for her phone
Ass to Darlene in jail, and they give her questions to ask her daughter. This was a set up from my but get go. It was it was somebody won't get a feather in their camp and they shut. I had a dinner, but so if you had a chance to sit across the table from Dave True- and let him know what you were thinking and feeling about all this, what would you say tell him that kiss my ass? He had Eustace that's the way I feel in two thousand five He Edwards recanted. She signed an affidavit saying the atm pressured her to give false testimony. The atm wooden talk to me about the case, but I was able to talk to retired agent David true. I met him at the fire the Fighters Union Hall in Kansas City, but he wouldn't, let me record him. He said he never told doors Clark
better daughter, Darlene with innocent. He said it was just opposite doors was while in the investigation, because she believed darlings involved. True told me Dorothy urged her own family members to provide evidence supporting Darlene skill. As for Darlene stouter, Becky, true said she gave multiple statements implicating her mother and the other defendants. He also said he never pressure anyone to lie, in addition to Becky Adwords, seven other witnesses who testified to the grand jury or trial recanted. Of course that leaves many other witnesses who haven't recanted. But when you go through their testimony, it's full of culture sections. I went with MIKE Mcgraw to his newsroom Kansas City. Public television MIKE has spreadsheet ten feet long double cited. It was fifty eight witnesses who testified for the prosecution. My spreadsheet shows that forty seven
This is changed their stories in the nine years between the crime and the trial. In other words, in many cases they might have such sold the local police right after the explosion. I know nothing about this case and when the feds take the case over eight or nine years later, they all of a sudden have these epiphanes about what they do. Remember and of course, when the feds took, case over from the local authorities that there was another incentive, and that was more than fifty thousand dollars and reward money advertised in most of the jails in prisons, in both Kansas and misery. A port. We list the names of the defendants in one column alongside rewrite the locations where witnesses reported seen them. So the information that we just pulled and put up your puts Brian at four different step is for different places, clearly at four different places at the time, at approximately the same time
almost as though no two witnesses told the same story about let's look at early we ve got her at home after the first explosion. We ve got her at the sight. We ve got her buying gas. We got her at the quick trip and the question is not the seven eleven does their dinner places. The quick trip was near the site. That's another convenience store and back at home at starting to be even more confusing rights. The trial transcript itself is over. A thousand pages long, the trial lasted for weeks and when you put it all together, doesn't make any sense and even the prosecutor and in the U S, attorney The time have acknowledged that, even after this lengthy trial
We still don't know what happened up there. That night I wanted to talk to. Prosecutors, but they declined citing appending hearing in the case, but back in two thousand six, when MIKE was working for the Kansas City STAR, he recorded this interview with assistant. U S attorney Paul Backer runaways in nineteen. Ninety six Becker with the governments led trial attorney on the fire fighters case might play all the contradictions when you studied testimony Frank was eight different places at once, Skip was for darling, was war crime working with them. I know the jury heard all the added value of the euro to discover that no by no means in my first. You probably know that at the time.
Oh, I knew that the DE all these witness statements didn't match up with me, the absolutely to defend it, would have me ask you, how can I be in two places at once? How are your witnesses be right, gorgeous relying upon their states knights of limited when it comes down to is the defendants admitted the crime We didn't have any eye witnesses. So what else do you have your Becker set? It didn't matter that some of the details from the witnesses didn't match up the. What mattered he said was that the defendants had admitted to witnesses that they had taken part in the crime. So Becker also defended the tactics the government used to get the testimony, including offering to reduce the prisoner sentence we make deals with people to let them out of jail right? We ve seen is your freedom and that's the norm in in federal criminal cases and state
to do. I guess I'm a new cooperate and you're gonna get less time what can be more of an inducement than that an end, but the rule is that it's hard and fast is. Is you disclosing what insulted? the driver of fact. The jury can way that when you look at the number of witnesses who were either in trouble already in jail or facing charges, state or fed in the power that the federal government had to make all that go away. It's just stunning. But then I wondered you know: what's the duty of a prosecutor without much power properly coerced witnesses. So actually that's what we're we're standing now is some feet below where the construction site was going on at the time make wanted to show me a marker.
Reviewed the government's handling of the case in response to Microgram reporting it concluded that there was no credible evidence that federal agents improperly coerced witnesses so actually that's where we're standing now is some feet below where the construction site was going on at the time. I wanted to show me a marker on the site of the highway at the sight of the explosions as you can, I'm still crosses covered with pennies gifts to fallen heroes and a plaque in memory of our fire fighters who gave their lives in the line of duty at the sight of member twenty. Ninth nineteen. Eighty eight year me remember this. This occurred and eighty eight and a plaque in memory of our fire fighters who gave their lives in the line of duty at the sight of number. Twenty. Ninth nineteen. Eighty eight, yeah me remember this. This occurred and eighty eight the families of the fire fighters the What city was mourning for eight years there has been
there had been no explanation for this. No one and held accountable for eight years. So when they gathered up these kids from Marlborough, some are more kids. They were there. March for retribution. There was a lot of pressure to give the families closure. They deserve to have. It truth, be told I've been here by myself more than once kind of communing with these fellows during. If there is any way, they could somehow give me a sign but what they think really happened that night, I'm not sure they really do, but I'm pretty sure the government doesn't know after two decades behind bars, there's no, one of the defendants, but there's a catch. I confess to a crime that I did not commit I'll tell em
all the things that I have done wrong in my entire life, but I did not commit his heart. That's makes veal if we invest a gateway. Forty. From the centre for investigative reporting and p r ex this is reveal a we ve talk. This, our about a tragedy that happened almost thirty years ago in Kansas City My report
we already know about that everyone. I went eighty seven fairly large explosion today for people civil life sentences. Without the possibility of parole for their involvement in the crime, a fifth defendant died of cancer leave, exhausted all appeals and had little chance of freedom. Until recently, one of the defendants is Brien Shepherd. He was seventeen at the time of the explosions. Now in two thousand, while the Supreme Court ruled that a mandatory life since without the possibility of parole was unconstitutional for juvenile, so because of his age at the time of the blast, Brian Shepherd is now eligible to be. Resettled reveals Jenna, Welsh, picks up the story with a phone call from prison receiving a call from bright shepherd, an inmate at sea, a Leavenworth detention Centre, press one to consent to the delivery of. If you would like
Brian supper is locked in a maximum security holding facility in Leavenworth. Kansas he's only able to call me for fifteen minutes at a time and the calls are monitored. High Brian. How old are you drunk remark? Brian told me that for years he stopped about getting out of prison because his chances seem so remote. He was focusing on making the best if he could on the inside, but after the Supreme Court decision, a federal judge and in his motion for resenting hearing, so Brian could have his time in prison reduced or he might even be released its for something like that to happen After all these years, in all it was a dream on like this is not really happening, but there's the twist a recent hearing isn't about guilt or innocence. It looks at Third, the original sentence was too harsh, given the defendants role in the crime and other factors. This is tricky for Brian, because
princess. He had no role in the explosions, I'm not gonna confessed crime that I did not come I'll tell everybody all the things that I've done wrong in my entire life, but I did not commit the crime that makes the judge decide to send me back to prison for forty more years and that's what's gonna happen. He told me that when he goes to the hearing he plans to read the judge a letter. He read part of it to me about a plea deal. He was offered in ninety ninety five. Many years ago I was given the chair for freedom. If I would get on with a stand at quarter mile goals at my best friend and fellow jury, what they were that there were guilty. If I have one or two self, I would have instead corrupted Marshall. Brain feels, like he's in the same predicament, now tell a lie and go free or tell the truth and stand jam free many many years ago. If I'd taken the deal, I hope the families
honourable man died and German, I can understand why I'm listening innocent by is visible The court ruled that juveniles can't be punished by the same standards as adult for crimes carrying life sentences. Certain factors must be considered like age, home, environment and the level participation in the crime juveniles. Can be sentenced to life without role, but only in rare cases where the crime reflects irreparable corruption. Cindy Short, his brain shepherds attorney. She says that at his recent, in sync hearing shall focus on his traumatic childhood. How is raised by alcohol acts and physically abused and she'll tell the judge how is turned us Life around imprison. The mammoth sits before me every day when I go to see here is a redeemed individual. He is a person who is Rehoboam.
Hated. Cindy says that while Imprison Brian Shepherd kicked his drug and alcohol, addictions Goddess Highschool diploma and has worked hard to stay close to his daughter and grand children. There is no evidence that this Someone that you would throw away that you would be afraid of that could never live in society that that, no relationship to who Brian Shepherd was seventeen, and if we are able to prove that and a mandatory sentence of life in prison is unconstitutional cannot apply to him. On the other hand, prosecutors will be at the hearing. They wouldn't talk to us but in court filing save indicated that Brian must accept some responsibility for the crime. In other words, do the one thing he to refuse to do for the past three decades, Debbie mockery was the wife of Robert Mccartney in one of the Firefox, who died in the explosion. She plans to speak at the hearing.
She told me when she's going to tell the judge about Brian Shepherd. Man had had twenty eight year to say something to reach out to the family of the fire fighters and yet has made no effort to. Say he was sorry so too. Now, at the recent things day, hey you now Let me out. I was too young to make that decision. I say no, you won't My children were that age and they make good decision. I asked her Brian claims he's innocent. He was found guilty. There is no validity to that claim, that's what I would say, or the judicial system would have referred it and they didn't. This gentleman needs to spend the rest of his life in jail. He took six slides
Take a right here: there's the Marlborough Community Center, I'm driving with reporter MIKE Mcgraw to meet brain shepherds, mother, her name's Verde Shepherd and she lives in the working class neighborhood in South Kansas City called Marlborough- is where all the people convicted and eighteen. Ninety seven were from as you can see looking around, there's nary a sidewalk anywhere the hall, the latter will need painting, many of whom have rider. Grading on their health. The do I've heard harry yourself, you are ass, we go inside verges house
she's sitting in a big armchair chain smoking with an oxygen tank. Next to her there. Does a Brian all over the walls. Give me the money What a watch every gun through nice society and still just being Durham poor, then He would also worked on the whole situation. I can't say that latter two fact Many in the world, where I grew up in what I have seen so far, I believe a true virtues always insisted that she was home with her son on the night of the explosions. Brian is now forty five. He spent almost half his life behind bars. It went forty one years just daughter. Labelling I mean it's a shame. Urges. House is only a mile from where the explosions happened in nineteen. Eighty eight, I reject by their drive some
in families below. I have been destroyed, and trying to hold themselves together DR mind rise. Three retired federal agents who worked on the case, Tommy their convinced that all the people convicted in the fire fighters case were guilty But there are some cops who question the trials outcome like victors. In he's, a retired and the city homicide detective in my opinion, The wrong people are in jail for this particular crime. Then, with the first attack, DR assigned to the case and spent months interviewing suspects. He's sympathises with a fine fighters families and says they deserve justice, but he says in this case justice wasn't served. In the knowledge that I have about the shepherds there, the pin penny, Annie thieves. They would. When the garage is, and they would still lawnmowers and we'd eaters.
They would sail little tiny bit drugs. They were major drug dealers. That type of crime then says the prosecutions theory about what happened the night of the explosions. Doesn't that I find it hard to believe that Darlene, Frank, skip, brown and brine would all go up here on time, but this hill, where the guards or one of the main access points, and they would look for stuff to steal and then finding anything that they would. To draw attention to themselves I sitting straw bales on fire that would draw the guards attentions to come. Looking for him The wrong people were sent to prison who did set the fires. Then things as to gaiters overlooked evidence implicating the two security guards on duty. That night, when the justice Parliament reviewed the case. They found new evidence that
people may have been involved in the arson in addition to the defendants, but when the report was made public, the names were blacked out. Brian Shepherd is recent or even released. It won't help. The other defendants in that case Darling Edwards is in a federal medical facility in Texas. Her health is declining and she's petition for clemency with no result. The story Darlene told the eighty five and ninety ninety five hoped convict all the defendants, including herself the last time, spoke to her. We talked about Brian, about what she'd say to him now if she could buy- and I love you- I am so so sorry- I did this- I know you didn't, do it and I pray that you get to go home with you granted I want go home to, but otherwise the told a lie at our sitting. Here
I played the type of darling for Brian I'm grateful that she actually said those words here now. After all these years, it does me somethin to me. I believe that, even though she did what she did and said what she said, she still deserves to be sent writer with me in going back for me, sensing era, Richard afraid, I told Brian that, even if he gets released a lot of people in Kansas City will still see him is responsible for the firefighters deaths ya. Here again we sentenced and then go all of my life, I'm I'm did it disappear. I'm not gonna live in Kansas City. I dont want to be around any body this involved in this. We don't know if brains, bird Darlene, Edwards or the others are guilty or innocent. It's been,
was thirty years since the firefighters died and it's still an emotional topic in Kansas City. Hence we sentencing hearing has been all over the news. It came up. End of my interview with joke a lady he's, the retired fire captain who the reward money that helped build a case against And then the others he still thinks brain I was involved in the explosions, but he accepts the fact. The brain might get a break. The law of the land achieves we're, I'm prepared personally see whatever happens happens and if he can get out You think you re at a job and he needs to go to school. He needs to be a citizen once again that might be hard. He's done. A lot of time in jail is probably hard, but every does good luck to him. If a tap Brien Shepherd will appear before fiddle
judge and kids sitting later this month will keep following his case. I show is produced in collaboration with the porter, make Mcgraw a k c peaty can't see for the television. We also had helpful to Kansas City STAR, see more their reporting and videos, a Kansas City, Dhaka, Deb George was yet. I got my gunnery engender Welsh, produces show our staff include, stand, alkaline, Fernanda, comedy and Julia be chance. Cheryl devolve, Melinda, Hasty, Catherine S, Gasket David, richer, minas, a teacher, Michael Schiller. I trees, conjurer lost our Chaskey talk you tell the meat is in aiming Walter's, are sound design team is the wonder to Mama J Breezy, Mr Jim Briggs and Clear see no moment they had production helpless. Week from Catherine Raimondo, our head of Studios Chris.
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Transcript generated on 2019-12-21.