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Wrongfully convicted Kansas man to get $7.5 million payment

OSKALOOSA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man who spent 16 years in prison for a rape and murder he didn’t commit will receive $7.5 million from the county where he was arrested and convicted of the crime.

Jefferson County commissioners approved the settlement last week with Floyd Bledsoe, who was released from prison in 2015 after DNA evidence showed he could not have been the killer of 14-year-old Camille Arfmann in Oskaloosa.

Bledsoe will receive $1.5 million initially, with the rest to be paid over the next 10 years, The Kansas City Star reported.

Bledsoe, who is now 46, was 23 when he was convicted in 2000 of killing the girl. He was arrested even though his brother, Tom, confessed to the killing in 1999, turned himself in and led authorities to the girl’s body.

According to a lawsuit Floyd Bledsoe filed in 2016, Jefferson County authorities persuaded Tom Bledsoe to recant his confession and “framed” his brother by hiding evidence of his innocence.

In 2015, DNA testing revealed Tom Bledsoe was the likely source of sperm found in the victim. Tom Bledsoe died by suicide that year after writing a note again confessing to killing Arfmann.

The charges against Floyd Bledsoe were dismissed and he was freed from prison that year.

One of Bledsoe’s attorneys, Russell Ainsworth of Loevy & Loevy in Chicago, said Jefferson County was facing up to $40 million in liability if the case went to trial.

Jefferson County Commissioner Richard Malm said the county’s annual budget is about $20 million and the commission would have had to propose a bond if Bledsoe had not agreed to have the payment spread over 10 years.

In 2019, the state agreed to pay Bledsoe $1.03 million under a mistaken conviction law.