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CNN Larry King Live

Wrongfully Convicted

Aired October 06, 2010 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, the incredible true story of a woman who did the impossible: uneducated, broke, devoted to a brother, she spent years in school but became a lawyer and won his release after 18 years behind bars. It's the amazing tale of hope that spared an innocent man wrongfully convicted of a terrible crime. It's the subject of a great new film. Hillary Swank and Sam Rockwell are here with the real life sister, about the brother she never gave up on.

Plus, a dozen men with horror stories of their own, here to tell us how it happened to them next on a very special edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening. Hillary Swank, the actress who's a two-time Academy winner, she plays Betty Anne Waters in a new movie "Conviction." The real Betty Anne Waters is here, too. She went to law school, became an attorney to help get her brother out of prison. Sam Rockwell, he plays Kenneth Waters, Betty Anne's brother, who spent 18 years behind bars for a crime he didn't commit. And Tony Goldwin, who directed "Conviction". This terrific movie, it opens October 15th.

Such stories aren't just the subject of movies. Joining us here in Los Angeles and in Dallas, are 12 men all wrongfully convicted of crimes, jailed, and ultimately freed. The Dallas County district attorney who plays the central role in their new lives is with us too. And they'll be watching along with you. We'll hear some of their stories a little later in the hour.

Let's first take a look at a scene from "Conviction."


BETTY ANNE WATERS: So this is what I'm going to do, and don't laugh, all right? I'm going to stop by trying to get by B.A. after I take the stupid GED test. And if I can get that, and if I even get that far, and there's no guarantee I'll even get in, I'll apply to law school.

But it's going to take a long time, Kenny, a really long time. And I might be 80 years old before I finally become a lawyer. And even then, I still don't know if I'm going to finance it. But you just have to promise me, you just have to, you won't ever try to kill yourself again, because if you do -- just don't.


KING: I cannot understate how good this movie is. It is a great film. Betty Anne, what was it like to see yourself played by her?

BETTY ANNE WATERS, BECAME A LAWYER TO HELP FREE BROTHER: Surreal. First of all, it was -- I can't even believe that she -- I got to have her play me. So but it was really surreal. I felt bad that she had to actually learn to talk like me and do some of the things I do, but she did a fabulous job.

KING: You didn't have even a high school diploma, right?

WATERS: Well, actually, I did have a GED.

KING: The equivalent, right?

WATERS: Yes, yes.

KING: So you went to law school, became a lawyer just to help get your brother freed?

WATERS: Yes, yes.

KING: All right, what's it like to play someone who is someone, Hillary?


KING: You know her?

SWANK: Yes. I didn't know of Betty Anne and Kenny's story before the script was sent to me. I didn't hear about it on the news or anything, but it was a great incredible honor to portray this woman, who is my real life hero.

KING: Well, it's -- there's no way to underplay this. It's an incredible film. Sam, when you got to strip, and you got to play this brother--


KING: --a conflicted character. Did you like it right away?

ROCKWELL: Yes, I loved it. I chased after it. I thought it was an amazing script and a great part. I was really excited.

KING: But you had to play someone that wasn't a nice guy. Not a nice guy, a guy you pretty much thought did this as a viewer.

ROCKWELL: Well, he's got a temper. You know, and maybe--

KING: No kidding?

ROCKWELL: Yes, but he's basically a good guy.

KING: Inside--


KING: --way inside.

ROCKWELL: Yes, that's right.

KING: How did you get to direct it, Tony?

TONY GOLDWYN, DIRECTOR, "CONVICTION": Well, we've been working on this for nine years. And--

KING: Nine years?

: Yes, nine years ago, my wife saw a piece on "60 Minutes" right after Betty Anne succeeded in getting Kenny out of prison. And she was screaming at me to come watch this piece, because it was so amazing. And I missed the segment. And she told me the story. And I was just so moved by it. And I thought to myself, this woman spent 18 and a half years on an act of faith in another human being, in her brother. And I wanted to know about that. I just was so affected by that.

And I thought what if he did it? What if either she was wrong? Or what if she was never successful, would that have invalidated her faith? And the answer for me was no, because just the fact of having that much love and faith for another person and as some of our other guests tonight said to me, you know, just one person believing in you is enough to sustain you through -- in prison.

KING: What did you make of her, Hillary, this extraordinary lady?

SWANK: I felt she was selfless. She was full of grace, the determination and drive and belief. And ultimately, like Tony said, love that she had for this other human being, you know, the selfless act of giving, really her life is astonishing. And, you know, we've all said it to Betty. And Betty Anne says what, what, I didn't do anything, I didn't do anything that anyone wouldn't do. And we said yes, you did. Most people wouldn't do this.

KING: What kept you believing?

WATERS: My brother. My brother Kenny had more faith in me than anybody ever had.

KING: Yes, but he erupted a lot? He lost confidence a lot?

WATERS: He never lost confidence in me.

KING: No, not you, but in getting out.

WATERS: You know, once that we made that promise that I would go to law school, Kenny really believed that I would get him out. I didn't really believe I could get him out or find a way, but he did, he did believe it.

KING: Was it tough to play?

ROCKWELL: Yes, it was, it was, but it was fun, it was good, hard work. And because of Tony and Hillary, I felt like I was able to, you know, step up the plate.

KING: Did you talk to Betty Anne about what her brother was like?

ROCKWELL: Yes, absolutely. We spent a whole weekend, the three of us with Betty Anne and her relatives, and told stories about Kenny and Betty Anne when they were kids.

SWANK: Lots of great stories.

ROCKWELL: It was a lot of fun, actually, yes.

KING: You know, the -- when you see this film as it evolves, authorities had every right to think he did it.


KING: Don't you think--


KING: --early on?

GOLDWYN: You know, I took a certain dramatic license here. You know, Kenny was no Boy Scout. There's no doubt about that. And, you know, the thing that's amazing about Kenny and about Sam's performance is there was kind of like this duality. In one sense, everyone adored Kenny. And he was the life of the party and was the most kind, generous person, but he could turn in an instant and had a very violent temper. And you know, he attracted trouble. He definitely did. But I in the movie, you know, the authorities, the facts are that came out, the authorities did not have the right to do it. There was a lot wrong with their case. And as you find out in the movie, there was a lot of abuse involved.

KING: His temper was doing him in, though, right, wasn't it?

WATERS: Well, you know, he had an temper, but he was not an aggressor. Kenny was the type of person, if somebody confronted him, he didn't know how to handle it. So that's where his temper came from. But he is not the type of person that would do that crime. He's not going to break into someone's home and kill them. His problems always came from somebody attacking him.

KING: Did he not have motive?

WATERS: No, he never had a motive. That's not--

KING: There wasn't involvement with the woman, though?

WATERS: No, she was just a neighbor. There was no involvement. He had nothing to do with this whatsoever. And knowing her, she's never said one bad thing about my family, my brother, or anybody.

GOLDWYN: You know, one of the things, Larry, that I think as, you know, as Sam says in the movie, as you know, from the start, he's been, you know, he's been painted with that brush. So if people went, oh, he's a bad guy, he's been busted, he's been in prison. And a lot of times in our society, we, you know, because of someone's past or the way we perceive them, we like to generalize. You know, so--


GOLDWYN: So that happen to Kenny.

KING: Tony will be coming back with us later. The man who was helped freed -- wrongfully convicted man from prison, who was an American hero, will join us next.


TIME STAMP: 2111:00


WATERS: This is the key.


WATERS: There was so much blood. Look, I'm going to get Kenny out. Look, there were no DNA tests in. They only know the murderer was Type O and so was Kenny. But now if we can DNA test the murderer's blood and Kenny's, it'll prove Kenny's innocent, just like in a rape case.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, wait. So how do you know the blood evidence still exists?

WATERS: Because we're going to find it. And Barry Scheck is going to help. Here, look.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, I see Barry Scheck.

WATERS: Well, he does. Look, he has this Innocence Project in New York.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you're going to call him up and he's going to take your case?



KING: We're back with the stars of "Conviction". Joining us now is Barry Scheck, criminal defense attorney, co-founder, co-director of the Innocence Project at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

What do you recollect about this case, Barry?

BARRY SCHECK, CO-FOUNDER, "THE INNOCENCE PROJECT": Well, this was unforgettable. Meeting Betty Anne and her best friend from law school, it was just extraordinary. We had, as people will see in the movie, it's not just getting a DNA test on the blood. And you know, that wasn't enough. We had to go out. We had to interview the witnesses. We had to reinvestigate the whole case.

KING: Did you take it right away off just her visit?

SCHECK: Well, we--

KING: And what (INAUDIBLE) would you take?

SCHECK: Well, our standard is very simple. If a DNA test can prove you innocent at the Innocence Project in New York, we'll take your case. There are now 50 other innocence projects in the United States. Not all of them rely just on DNA. We do, but that's a very simple standard. If DNA proves you innocent, we'll take your case.

KING: Simple as that?

SCHECK: Simple as that.

KING: How about all the times there was no DNA?

SCHECK: Well, that's a key problem, because you know, only 10 percent of serious felony cases have any biological evidence, where you can do a test and find out whether somebody's guilty or innocent, much less identify the real perpetrator.

So these non-DNA cases where there's mistaken eyewitness identification, false confessions, bad forensic science, jailhouse snitches, police or prosecutors who cross the line, or worst of all, a bad defense lawyer, somebody who doesn't have the resources or the ability to make a defense. These are the causes of wrongful convictions. And we know what to do about them. And we know if we solve them, we're going to benefit the whole system.

KING: How many people have you got now?

SCHECK: Well, there have been 260 post conviction DNA exonerations. Our project has not been the principal in all of them, but probably two-thirds--

KING: These are 260, all men?

SCHECK: Well, all men. There are some women who got out because they were like co-defendants in the case.

KING: Oh. And these were men who were all in jail for killing someone?

SCHECK: Well, there -- a lot of them are sexual assaults. 17 people were on death row. I think about 40 of them or so were murderers like Kenny, if there had been a death penalty in Massachusetts.

KING: What did you think of the movie?

SCHECK: Well, this movie took 8.5 years to get done. And we are thrilled with the movie. I mean--

KING: You ought to be. SCHECK: --it's just got a lot of integrity to it. It was brilliantly done. The performances of Hillary and Sam and everybody--


SCHECK: Well, he does a great job, Larry. We always need to get Irish men to --

KING: You look so much alike.

SCHECK: That's absolutely right.

KING: How important was Barry to you, Betty?

WATERS: Well, you know, Hillary says that I'm her hero. Barry is definitely my hero, I say that all the time. Without him, it wouldn't have happened. It just -- I don't believe it would have. He's very important to me.

KING: Hillary, have you learned more about this now that you've made this movie about all of these people being freed?

SWANK: Absolutely. It's one of the blessings of my job is that I get to walk in people -- other people's shoes and learn about something that I wouldn't had I not been an actor. It's extraordinary to be an actor and get that opportunity.

KING: One can only imagine, Sam, what would it be like. And you have to play someone like this. To be and we'll meet some of the gentlemen later who are here tonight in our studio.


KING: To play someone who didn't do what he's charged with doing, what's it like, d you feel to be a prisoner when you're innocent?

SCHECK: You know, it's hard for me to imagine. I mean, as much research as I did, it's still unfathomable to try to put yourself in that position. You know, you talk to some of these people, you see documentaries, whatever you do. It's really unimaginable.

KING: Wouldn't you think you'd go nuts, Barry?

SCHECK: Well--

KING: To be in jail when you didn't do something?

SCHECK: --I think we've lost a lot of people--

KING: Suicide?

SCHECK: --because they couldn't deal with it. You know, there's a pattern that's quite extraordinary about these people. I think for the first two or three years, you're in prison for a crime you didn't commit, it eats you alive. The anger is just beyond imagination. And at a certain point in order to survive, you have to transcend it. And it's an incredible, spiritual act.

And, you know, people say oh, they're not bitter when they get out. I mean, these men have good reason for resentment. But what people are picking up when they say that is that there's a certain spiritual transcendence that's remarkable. And that's why they survived. And that's why eventually, we're able to find them.

KING: With us are 12 men who wrongfully convicted. We'll meet them shortly.

How many more in the country are in prison and don't belong there? The movie is "Conviction." It opens October 15th. We'll get some more answers next.


TIME STAMP: 2119:45

KING: We're back with Barry Scheck, and Hillary Swank, and Betty Anne Waters, and Sam Rockwell. All involved in this extraordinary film "Conviction," which opens October 15th.

You describe the character you play as a lovable screw-up, right?

ROCKWELL: That might be a different film. Right?


KING: He was, though, wasn't he, Barry?

SCHECK: Yes. You know, it's -- Sam's portrayal is terrific, because--

KING: It's unbelievable.

SCHECK: --you know, Kenny was really funny. He was really, you know, the life of the party, as they were saying. But also, I mean, my God, what he went through and his experiences are just extraordinary. I mean, he really had one of the worst imprisonments of any client we've had. I mean--

KING: Really?

SCHECK: Yes, he had Hepatitis C. He really suffered terribly in prison. And he came out with such a life force. Isolation, yes.

KING: Did you ever give up, Betty?

WATERS: Me? No, I--

KING: In all those years?

WATERS: No, I had bad times. There were times when I didn't think I'd be able to make it. There were many hurdles that I had to take one at a time, but I knew I couldn't give up, because I knew I had a lot to lose. I would have lost Kenny. KING: Hillary, your friend co-actor and friend Al Pacino told me after playing Kevorkian that he likes playing real people, people he got to know. Did you enjoy playing someone who you knew?

SWANK: I did enormously. I mean, I played a lot of real life people. And it's kind of a trajectory I can see now looking back in my career. But only two, including one of them being Betty Anne, were actually alive.

It's wonderful. It's like, you know, a lot of my homework is just hanging out with her. You know, and playing fictional characters, you have to kind of make up a lot of the details and the specifics about what you're doing. But you know, getting to meet Betty Anne, I got to meet all of the onion layers of a person, you know?

KING: Yes. Well put. Kenny was arrested two years after the murder. Let's watch another clip from "Conviction."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When times were roughest, Benjamin made sure there was food on the table. Can I help you, officer?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me, Father. Kenneth Waters, you're under arrest. We need to come with us.

WATERS: Can't we wait until after the funeral?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take care of me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have to go. Okay I'm coming, I'm coming.

WATERS: Please, can't this wait?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's this for?

WATERS: Just until after the funeral?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God. Just give me a break over here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kenneth Waters, you're under the arrest for the murder of Katarina Brown.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You let me off two years ago?



KING: Is that a hard scene to do?

ROCKWELL: Yes, sure. It always takes a lot of focus in a scene like that. There's a lot of things going on. It's a funeral. And getting -- it's surreal. You know, you try to imagine that happening. KING: Did you watch the filming?

WATERS: I watched a lot of the filming. I was there for most of it I'd say.


KING: Did it feel funny?

WATERS: Very funny. And you never know how it's going to end up because I see how hard they work. They can work 14 hours to do one minute of a scene. And I'm like you don't know which minute it will be on the screen later.

KING: Tony said they take some liberties. Do they take a lot? Or is it pretty much true to form?

WATERS: Pretty much true to form. I think the only difference might be some of the sequences are different. You know, like everything didn't happen exactly at the same time that they said it happened, but everything did happen. And all the feelings were real. And I think everybody just portrayed those feelings perfectly, especially Juliette Lewis.

SWANK: You know, I sit in Betty Anne's chair on set. And I reached my hands in the pocket. And there was like layer upon layer of Kleenex. You had mentioned that this was cathartic for you to kind of relive.

WATERS: Yes, actually, I felt -- I spent many hours talking to Hillary, Sam, Tony, and everyone. And I always felt later that I was through therapy. Like I just went through years of therapy. It was the same thing on set.

KING: How long after he got out did he die?

WATERS: Six months.

KING: What did he die of?

WATERS: An accidental fall. He fell and hit his head. And he died of a brain injury.

KING: How old was he?


KING: You're around tragedy all the time, Scheck, aren't you? Think about it.

SCHECK: No, no.

KING: The movie is "Conviction." I can't extol it enough. The terrific Minnie Driver joins us next.



ABRA RICE, FRIEND: We're going to be friends, because we're the only ones in class who have been through puberty.

WATERS: Well, I'm just -- I'm really dizzy.

RICE: Okay, I'll start. So I got these lefty parents. And they're always telling me I should put my big mouth to good use and try to change the system. So, you know, I ignored them, of course. And after partying for a few too many years, so I finally figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up. And it turned out my parents were right so here I am. What about you?

WATERS: Look, I'm not trying to be rude. I just don't have time for a friend right now.

DRIVER: Yes, you do. I mean I'm all you got.


KING: We are back. Joining us is Minnie Driver, the Academy award nominated actress. She plays Abra Rice in the movie "Conviction." And the real Abra Rice is with us. She's a friend of Betty Anne Waters and helped her prove that Kenny was innocent.

Now we have another case here of an actress and the person she played, an actress and the person she played. Minnie, how did you play this part? What'd you think of it?

MINNIE DRIVER, ACTRESS: I thought it was -- I couldn't believe that it was a real story when I read it. And I knew that I loved Hillary, but falling in love with Ms. Rice was fantastic. I mean, I don't look anything like her. And I think Tony Goldwyn, maybe he saw that we have the same sort of spirit.

KING: Right, you don't look alike at all.

ABRA RICE, FRIEND: Not at all.

KING: All right, Abra how well did she get you?

RICE: Pretty well.

KING: Yes?

RICE: She was a lot nicer.

KING: Were you as tough as you were portrayed?

RICE: Tougher.

KING: Well, do you think she was -- they wouldn't have gone much further if she weren't around, would they, Barry? SCHECK: She's a public defender in New Haven. She's the real deal, Abra.

KING: You are a public defender in New Haven now?

RICE: Yes.

KING: And what was it like for you to play a real person?

DRIVER: It's very strange, but amazing because Abra was there for a lot of the scenes that I filmed. And it was really good to witness her and Betty Anne's relationship, which is based on a lot of razzing and humor. And I think when you've been through the kind of war that they went through together, you come out the other side with a pretty strong relationship.

KING: Did you know Kenny well?

RICE: Briefly.

KING: Did you believe he was innocent?

RICE: Absolutely.

KING: What made you believe it? We understand the sister. You weren't a sister.

RICE: No, I wasn't.

KING: What made you believe it?

RICE: Because Betty thought he was innocent, so I thought he was innocent. And that's the reason I went to law school to help the innocent and not so innocent.

KING: You, too, went to law school?

RICE: Yes.

KING: As a public defender, everyone tells you they're innocent, right?

RICE: Everybody.

KING: So how do you break down the difference?

RICE: Well, they're, as Barry knows, to perform a service. It's not up to the public defender or the defense attorney to make that decision. But my friend Betty Ann said her brother was innocent; I believed he was innocent.

KING: Did Hillary get you to play this, Mini?

DRIVER: Well, Hillary was a big reason that --

KING: You're friends? DRIVER: We are friends now.

KING: You weren't friends then?

DRIVER: No, we didn't know each other. We have the same amazing manager. And he kind of put us together. But it was, you know, the -- an extraordinary story with Hillary and Tony Goldwyn directing and --

KING: That it is.

DRIVER: Sam Rockwell, too.

KING: Betty, did Mini get your friend right?

WATERS: Yes, she did.


KING: Missed it completely. Abracadabra.

WATERS: Abra has an unbelievable spirit and she can be very funny and uplifting. I think Mini definitely captured that.

KING: Let's look at another scene from "Conviction." Watch.


DRIVER: Betty, they destroyed it.

SWANK: No. That evidence exists somewhere and I'm going to find it.

DRIVER: OK, let's say you do find it. What if the DNA matches Kenny's?

SWANK: Get out. Get the hell out of my house right now.

DRIVER: No. You got to hear this. You can be the most amazing fighter, the most brilliant lawyer in the world. There are forces greater than you and you may not win.

SWANK: Do you think I haven't thought of that?

DRIVER: No, you haven't.


KING: Twelve men who were wrongfully convicted are watching this show with us here in Los Angeles and in Dallas. We'll meet a few of them a little later. You'll see all of them. To learn more about their stories, check out a great new book, "Tested, How 12 Wrongfully Imprisoned Men Held on to Hope." It's in bookstores next week. Or you can go to More after this. Stick around.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My own family is something unbelievable.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we all love you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we're all just happy today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every member in our family has always believed in his innocence, without a doubt. Never a doubt, never.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So what is the first thing you're going to do?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hug and kiss my uncle and bring him home where he belongs.


KING: Barry, people wrongfully in prison, is it generally the case that the prosecutor has too much zeal or that they were acting purely on the information they had?

SCHECK: Well, you know, it's a mixed bag like anything else. There are some prosecutors, like our friend Craig Watkins here from Dallas, who really will look at a case, a case that's been decided, and has a Conviction Integrity Unit that will look at it and see whether or not the evidence merits a re-examination. And there's some prosecutors, unfortunately, that, you know, get this tunnel vision and they just won't accept any contrary kind of proof.

KING: So therefore, there are prosecutors who know there are innocent people in prison? Or are they convinced themselves that they're guilty?

SCHECK: They convince themselves for the most part that they're guilty.

KING: How do you think this -- by the way, who wrote this movie?


SCHECK: Pam Gray, a fantastic screenwriter. And she and Tony Goldwyn did this wonderful movie, "A Walk on the Moon." My next door neighbor, Andy Carsh (ph), is the original producer of this movie. And so from the very beginning, Andy said we have got to get these two involved. And they did. And when your talk about Mini and Abra and Hillary and Betty Ann and the repartee, I think Pam gets a lot of credit, because she's a Brooklyn girl and she got it exactly right, Larry.

KING: Brooklyn girls would. It's a deep -- it's an emotional picture, some very funny scenes in it. But it is basically this is hard.

SWANK: I think this is, at the core, at the heart of it, a feel good movie. And I think people want to see -- feel good right now. I think this is a time on Earth that people need that. And I think it's going to do well because of it. It's really a love story between a brother and a sister at its core.

KING: You say it's a good -- you'll have a good feeling coming out. You will, but you'll also be perturbed. Don't you think? You'll be a little angry?

SWANK: About?


SWANK: I think of course, but I think it runs the gamut. You know, I mean, from the injustice that is portrayed and people will hopefully look into that and want to do something about that. They'll look into the Innocence Project. They can -- you can go on to the and learn more about what you can do to help. I think they'll feel hopeless and I think they'll feel hopeful again. And I think they'll feel uplifted by the love.

DRIVER: And question whether you would do it for a family member yourself, just what you would you do? How far would you go.

SCHECK: And inspiration will actually take you past all odds, which is what I think Hillary is saying here. I mean, that's what people need to hear now. And they need to see it in real life, with a real life hero.

KING: You had to stick by it, too. You had to be strong for her?

WATERS: It was easy.

KING: And how proud you must be of this.

WATERS: I'm very, very proud of this. My brother would be king.

KING: Was your brother getting back into life?

WATERS: He was into life. It was the best six months of his entire life. He was enjoying life, all the shows. He would talk to anybody that would listen, and everybody wanted to listen. I used to get calls -- he would be out saying, people want to meet my sister, come on. And I'm like Kenny, I'm in bed.

KING: We'll be back with the true story of "Conviction," both on screen and off. Of course, you're going to meet some others who say it happened to them. Stick around.


KING: Talking about a new film coming to you in a couple of weeks. The film is "Conviction" with Hillary Swank, Betty Ann Waters, Director Tony Goldwyn, and the attorney Barry Scheck. Why did it take so long to get made?

GOLDWYN: Because movies like this are hard. You know, they're -- you got to do them right or they tend to be -- they can be easily sort of generic and overly sentimental. And people get a little nervous about that. What were you going to say, Hill. SWANK: Wouldn't you say just getting a movie made in general is hard right now?

GOLDWYN: Oh yes. Every time you make a movie it's a miracle, and it's an act of will. So there's no question about that.

SWANK: I mean, even with "Million Dollar Baby," they said no, we don't want to make this, off Clint -- you know, coming off of "Mystic River." I mean right being nominated. So making movies is just hard.

SCHECK: When this movie was first sold, the movie business was different than it is today.

KING: In what way?

SCHECK: Well, I mean, now, the budgets are lower. The -- there's more "Transformers" and, you know, stuff in the theaters. I mean, frankly, it's the influence I think of cable TV. There's such great stuff on cable TV in terms of drama.

KING: HBO and --

SCHECK: Right.

GOLDWYN: I must say, also, A lot of people I find, you know -- you mentioned "Transformers." You know, studios like something that they know exactly how to sell it. But I have had so many people coming up to us after seeing this movie and saying, thank you for making this. Where are all the adult movies? Where are all the movies that we want to see? You know, not that there's not a place for great action movies and what not.

KING: Shouldn't we be amazed that there isn't more anger in the country that people are behind bars who didn't do it?

SCHECK: I think that, as you know, Larry, because you have been covering these stories for years, there,'s so many of these exonerations. There's so many of these cases. And actually we have more people in prison in this country, you know, than any place except Russia and Iran. So one in four people in this country have somebody they know that was arrested. And I really feel that we have seen it from the screenings and from what happens when people see this movie; if we can get people into the theater to see this movie, you know, the word of mouth is going to be phenomenal.

KING: Also Betty, you're a lawyer now. Do you think there's a true assumption of innocence in America?

WATERS: A true assumption of innocence?

KING: Yes. We're supposed to assume that everybody is innocent until proven guilty.

WATERS: I think that that is what happens, because before this happened to my brother, I thought people that were in prison were guilty. KING: So there's not a pure assumption? You don't think -- Hillary, don't you think that's true? There's no pure assumption of innocence?

SWANK: I don't think so.

KING: You read somebody is arrested, the immediate thought is they did it?

SWANK: Yes, I think for the most part. I think, yes.

KING: You too, right, Tony?

GOLDWYN: I think that's a fact. I think that in our country, in our society, maybe in the world as human beings, we like quick answers to things. And we want to be certain. And if something awful happened that is terribly traumatic and upsetting, we want an answer immediately. So we crave closure. And so if that's the guy, great, get it done with.

KING: We're going to come back and we'll meet the men who have been watching this show with you. All of them -- all of them wrongly convicted and imprisoned for serious crimes, now free to tell us what happened to them. You'll also meet a very courageous you DA. Don't go away.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You knew your son was innocent all along?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I knew it. Yes. I was positive.


KING: That was Steven Brody, released from prison just Friday, wrongfully conflicted of aggravated sexual assault of a child. Stephen is among the men watching our show from Dallas. And here in Los Angeles, let's meet the others. Craig Watkins, the Dallas County district attorney, he refused to destroy evidence from old cases which ultimately led to 20 exonerations. Johnnie Lindsey, wrongfully convicted in aggravated rape, served 26 years until a DNA test proved his innocence. Keith Turner, wrongfully convicted of rape, served ten years. DNA cleared him.

Steven Phillips, wrongfully convicted of aggravated rape, served 24 years. DNA freed him. Christopher Stock, wrongfully convicted of capital murder, served 12 years. Freed after another prisoner confessed. Billy James Smith, wrongfully convicted of aggravated assault, served almost 20 years. DNA evidence proved he was not a rapist. Thomas McGowan, wrongfully convicted of burglary and aggravated sexual assault. He served 23 years before DNA testing proved his innocence. Entrey Carrage (ph) was wrongfully convicted of murder, served seven years. DNA helped lead to his release. He was granted a full pardon by Texas Governor Rick Perry. James Giles was wrongfully convicted of aggravated sexual assault. He served ten years. DNA helped exonerate him. Richard Miles wrongfully convicted of murder and attempted murder, served 15 years. Evidence naming the real killer never provided to the defense. He was released when this tragic mistake was uncovered.

Victor Thomas, wrongfully convicted of rape, kidnapping and robbery, served 16 years. DNA tests proved he wasn't the rapist. Eugene Horton, wrongfully convicted of sexual assault, served 18 months. DNA tests led to his conviction being overturned. We showed you Steven Brody a minute ago. You can see more of his history at Still with us, the stars of "Conviction" and some real-life heroes as well. Actress Hillary Swank, the woman she plays in the film, Betty Anne Waters, director Tony Goldwyn and attorney Barry Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project.

Craig Watkins, Dallas County district attorney, what led you to hold on to this, as opposed to other DAs who didn't?

CRAIG WATKINS, DALLAS COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I was elected as a new DA in Dallas County in 2006 and took office in 2007. And upon my first week of entering office, I was requested by a long-time assistant DA to sign a form to allow all the evidence to be destroyed. And I had practiced law for a while in Dallas County. And I thought that that was not going to be a wise decision. So I refused to sign the motion to have that evidence destroyed.

It was probably for the last three years, as a district attorney for Dallas County, one of the best decisions that I've made. My first week in office there was an exoneration of a man who had been trying to have his name cleared for five years. And fortunately I got the opportunity to go downstairs and apologize to that individual for his wrongful conviction.

And I didn't think anything of it, I thought it's the responsibility of the elected district attorney to restore credibility to the criminal justice system, to at least give an apology to an individual who had been wrongfully convicted. And so I did that. And after that, it became a big media storm as to the fact that I just went down and apologized.

Soon after that, we had someone from the Innocence Project contact us and said, well, you know, Dallas County has been a haven of wrongful convictions for years. And this is the opportunity for you --

KING: Wow.

WATKINS: -- Mr. DA, to look at these cases and make sure it never happens again.

KING: I salute you. We'll talk with some of the men after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: This book will be released next week, "Tested." It's about men wrongfully convicted. Johnnie, you served 26 years, Johnnie Lindsey. How did you put up? What kept you going?

JOHNNIE LINDSEY, WRONGFULLY CONVICTED: Well, the fact that, first of all, I knew I wasn't guilty of the crime. And I just thought it was so harsh that I was just literally kidnapped by the police, the District Attorney's Office, and all the -- I felt like I was kidnapped and just thrown away. And --

KING: But what kept you going?

LINDSEY: Well, it was the faith that I had that right will always override wrong. And somehow some way I knew that the truth would come out that I wasn't the perpetrator. And I just prayed, I just kept the faith. And it was the only thing I know to do to keep from going insane. And I kind of -- in relation to conviction, when Bobby -- I think that was his name. He was talking about committing suicide, but then that's the side of the conviction, a wrongful conviction, that people don't know or hear about.

KING: Let me ask Richard in Dallas. Evidence naming the real killer in your case was never provided to the defense. Weren't you angry and bitter when you got released?

RICHARD MILES, WRONGFULLY CONVICTED: Yes, sir, I was. But if I dwell on the anger, I can't get past it. And I had to hold on to the hope. I had to stay focused on my father, who was a bishop, who passed away before I got out. The determination that I had was put in me when I was young, and that inevitably was the thing that inspired me to move on.

KING: And, Keith, you were wrongfully -- here in LA-- convicted of rape. You served 16 years. It had to be more than faith. What kept you going?

KEITH TURNER, WRONGFULLY CONVICTED: My mother. You know, she was a woman of faith. And she instilled in me, and -- to believe in what's right. And you know, she was my guidance. And she taught me everything I know. She taught me how to be a man. And you know, she -- she believed in me. And she was there for me. And, you know, my theme in the book "Tested" is attributed to my mother for being there for me.

KING: Somewhat like Betty Anne Waters was as a sister, right?


KING: Believing in someone.


KING: James Giles, what kept you going?

JAMES GILES, WRONGFULLY CONVICTED: My faith in God and trusting that, sooner or later, the truth will prevail. And so after the truth really came to light through the Innocence Project of New York, I got to writing letters to Barry Scheck, which I became acquainted with. And my faith kept hope that one day that this will come to the light. And so that's why it's so important that everyone should see that book "Tested," to know that our hope -- my hope was in God, that I knew that one day my mother, dead and gone, that the truth will prevail.

KING: Is that the --


KING: I get it. But, Barry, is that the common thread? Faith?

SCHECK: Well, faith and a belief that somehow, you know, truth crushed to Earth will rise again; no lie will live forever.

KING: But these men, some that were on death row -- that you saw others maybe that were put to death who didn't do it.

SCHECK: I think that's definitely happened in this country, Larry.

KING: How do you redress that grievance?

SCHECK: Well, we're actually going to have a hearing next week -- this coming week in Austin, Texas, about one of those cases involving a man named Cameron Todd Willingham. And we're asking a judge there to actually make a ruling that an innocent man was wrongfully executed in the United States.

KING: You're saying they will make an announcement by a judge in Texas next week?

SCHECK: We have a hearing on Wednesday and Thursday.

KING: That Texas killed someone wrongfully.

SCHECK: Yes, it's a case involving a man named Cameron Todd Willingham.

KING: I read about him in New York.

SCHECK: Yes, the "New Yorker" -- David Graham wrote a Polk Award winning article about it. And that's what's in the courts.

KING: I congratulate all you men, the district attorney especially, Craig Watkins, for being so open minded. The movie is "Conviction," opens October 15th. It's great. For more on these incredible stories and information about the Innocence Project, go to And look for the book "Tested, How 12 Wrongly Imprisoned Men Held on to Hope."

Here's Anderson Cooper and "AC 360."