Mike McGraw, an investigative reporter for The Star, has just published a story raising new questions about the explosion that killed six KCFD firefighters in 1988 in one of the city's worst tragedies. If you get a chance, McGraw and other staffers have assembled a huge amount of stories, videos and other information about the case.
Carie Neighbors said they threatened to take away her son. Jerry Rooks said they warned him he’d get a stiffer jail sentence. Alan Bethard said they charged him with a more serious crime.
Now, those witnesses and up to 12 others — many speaking publicly for the first time — have told The Kansas City Star that a federal investigator in the firefighters’ explosion case pressured them to lie.
Five who testified in the case admit they lied to the federal grand jury that indicted the defendants or later at their trial. The other witnesses said they refused to change their stories.
“You want me to fabricate some lies, and I don’t want any part of it,” Dave Dawson said he told federal investigators in the case. “That’s when they told me to have a good life in the penitentiary.”
Legal experts said that if investigators used improper pressure, that could mean the five defendants were wrongly prosecuted and convicted, and that a new American Bar Association rule should prompt the prosecutor to reinvestigate the two-decade-old case.