In 1981, Eddie Lowery was serving our country as a soldier in the U.S. Army, stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas. He and his wife were raising their 3-year old daughter in the tiny community of Ogden. On the evening of July 26, 1981, Eddie was attending a get-together with friends. When he decided to step out and make a trip to a nearby store, his life was changed forever. The catastrophic events were set into motion when Eddie accidentally hit a parked car. Once the police arrived to assess the incident, Eddie cooperated and spoke with the officers-giving them the details they requested.
When Eddie arrived at the police station the following day, law enforcement officers began questioning him about the rape of an elderly Ogden woman. The police were intrigued that the sexual assault had taken place very close to the time and location of Eddie's mishap with the parked vehicle. Of course, Eddie denied any knowledge or association with the terrible crime. However, investigators insisted that he return the next day for more questioning. “I thought I’d tell them what happened and they’d believe me and I’d go back to my normal life,” Lowery said. The investigators became fixated on Eddie, with their interrogation tactics becoming increasingly aggressive. The officials denied Eddie's request for an attorney and they provided NO opportunity to place any phone calls.
Ultimately, Eddie agreed to take a lie detector test. “I wanted to clear my name. I wanted to help,” he said. Eddie's tormentors violated any and all investigative standards, .....they lied. They told Eddie that he had failed the lie detector test. Convinced that the fender bender in the victim's neighborhood was NOT a coincidence, the police relentlessly badgered and threatened Eddie.
After hours of this torture, the man simply broke down. “I was totally mentally exhausted,” Eddie said. “I didn’t know how to get out of the situation.” To bolster the validity of the ill-gotten, entirely false confession, the investigators began spoon-feeding the facts of the case to their prisoner. Eddie merely repeated the information back to them. He did whatever it took to please them. The interview was NOT recorded. “I beat myself up for years for giving them a false confession,” Lowery said. “They had no other evidence. ... Because I wasn’t there.”
The foundation of Eddie's rape trial was centered entirely on the ridiculously flawed confession. His first trial resulted in a hung jury, but during the second trial the jury convicted him of rape, aggravated battery, and aggravated assault. At age 22, Eddie received a sentence of 11 years to life. He was sent to the Lansing Correctional Facility. During his time in prison, Eddie never had an opportunity to see his daughter. The young girl grew up without him.
On three occasions, Eddie went before his parole board. Each time, he denied involvement in the rape. With the years passing him by, Eddie FINALLY DECIDED TO LIE ABOUT THE RAPE. He told his parole board that he did it. He told them that he was sorry for committing a crime that-IN REALITY-he did not commit and simply could NEVER commit. Pleased with this revelation, the parole board allowed Eddie to advance through the system and complete the required sex offender course, where he had to CONTINUE LYING about his life as a rapist. In 1991, after serving ten years in prison, Eddie was finally paroled. But his life for many years to come had been all but ruined.
Eddie moved to Kansas City, found employment, remarried, and had two children. In 1994, he received a letter informing him that-due to a new law-he was obligated to register as a sex offender. “I assumed everyone would find out. It just put me in a deep depression. It was a humiliating time in my life,” Eddie said.
A few years later, he began hearing about how DNA testing was helping to exonerate the wrongfully convicted.
Eddie was fortunate to secure the assistance of Manhattan, Kansas attorney, Barry Clark, and the New York-based Innocence Project. Through a great deal of harrowing efforts, Barry and Eddie were eventually able to locate the original rape kit, which was still in an envelope in the Riley County, Kansas records vault. “When he (Clark) told me that they found the rape kit, I knew that I was going to be found innocent of this crime,” Eddie said.
As it so often happens, DNA testing provided freedom to yet another innocent individual. In this case, the wrongfully punished man was no longer incarcerated. However, Eddie was able to gain back at least a SEGMENT of that which had been stolen from him years earlier. On April 3, 2003, Eddie was officially declared innocent of the crime--based on the DNA evidence. The cowardly detectives who pressured him into a false confession have never expressed remorse to Eddie Lowery. The cowardly prosecutor, to this day, refuses to admit that Eddie could not have possibly had anything to do with sexually assaulting the 74-year old victim. Sometimes people have to embrace concepts of denial such as this, ....otherwise seeing themselves in the mirror each day is simply too unbearable.
As a consequence of the scientific testing, and the power of the DNA database, law enforcement officials were able to identify Daniel Brewer as the perpetrator of the sexual assault on July 26, 1981 in Ogden, Kansas. Brewer, who was residing in New York, NY, was extradited to Kansas, charged, and convicted of not just one, but TWO sexual assaults.
THE HORRIFYING TRUTH: The law enforcement officials and prosecutors who badgered and convicted Eddie Lowery had become keenly aware of multiple sexual assault incidents in the tiny community of Ogden, Kansas, ....each occurring very close to the time frame when Eddie was brought in and bullied into a confession. What did these geniuses think? That TWO serial rapists were prowling that one microscopic Kansas town at precisely same time? Brilliant. As a consequence of his wrongful conviction and exoneration, Eddie Lowery was justifiably awarded $7.5 million dollars. This burden was carried by the taxpayers of Riley County, Kansas. This is yet another stunning example of the countless misguided efforts to investigate and prosecute crimes.
Michael J. Spence, Ph.D.
March 14, 2012
March 14, 2012