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$1.65 Million Settlement in Nebraska Wrongful Arrest Case

by Christopher Zoukis

A Cass County, Nebraska man has agreed to settle a federal civil rights case that alleged that he was accused, arrested and jailed for a double murder that he did not commit.

Matthew Livers was arrested on suspicion that he murdered Wayne Stock and Sharmon Stock April 17, 2006. He was subjected to an unconscionable and highly coercive 11-hourlong interrogation, during which he falsely confessed and implicated his cousin, Nicholas Sampson, in the murders. He later recanted the confession, but was still charged with the murders and jailed.

The confession was the only evidence linking Livers and Sampson to the crime, however. So investigators asked the Douglas County CSI Division to reprocess the scene. This time, David Kofoed, the commander of the Division, did the work himself, and produced a report indicating that he found the victim's blood in Sampson's car.

But he made that up. Other investigators had been pursuing the actual killers, who were in a Milwaukee jail. When it became very clear that they had the wrong guys, Kofoed admitted that the report was false. He was fired, and went to jail for tampering with evidence.

After spending seven months in jail facing a possible death sentence, Livers and Sampson were released and the charges were dismissed.

Livers filed suit against the county, officers Earl Schenck, William Lambert, Charles O'Callaghan, Sandra Weyers and Kofoed. Represented by multiple attorneys with the Northwestern University School of Law Roderick Macarthur Justice Center, Livers claimed civil rights violations for coercive interrogation, fabrication of evidence, false arrest, concealment of exculpatory evidence, and conspiracy and failure to intervene.

Three days before the October 21, 2013 trial date, the parties settled. Livers accepted $1.75 million in damages. Sampson, who had filed a similar suit, settled for $965,000.

Cases: Livers v. Schenck, et al., United States District Court for the District of Nebraska, Case No. 8:08-cv-00107-JFB-TDT (October 18, 2013); Sampson v. Lambert, et al., United States District Court for the District of Nebraska, Case No. 8:07-cv-00155-JFB-TDT (October 18, 2013).

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Related legal case

Livers v. Schenck



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