The Kenneth Waters Case
This movie’s a legal drama movie and based on a true story. The story of Katharina Brow, Kenneth Waters and Betty Anne Waters. Hillary Swank portrays Betty Anne Waters. The sister. Sam Rockwell is Kenneth ‘Kenny’ Waters. The brother. Katharina Brow isn’t portrayed by anyone. She’s the murder victim without a role. The director is Tony Goldwyn and the writer’s Pamela Gray. The US Release date was on October 15, 2010. Watch the trailer


The movie story
Hillary Swank, as Betty Anne, dropped out of highschool. When her brother’s convicted for the murder of Katharina Brow, without the possibility of parole, and all his appeals denied, that’s about to change.
When he’s been in jail for three years, she realises he never will get out if she doesn’t do something.
The trigger was his suicide attempt in jail. She decides to get her GED nonetheless. After, she struggles herself through an eduction into becoming her brother’s lawyer. It’s a long road and it cost her the relationship with the father of her children. Her children even go living with their dad one day, because she has too little time left for them. There isn’t lack of love. Even so, she proceeds with her mission to get her brother out of jail. She’s determined and she’s convinced her bother is truly innocent of this crime. As soon as she earned the title lawyer, she sets out fo find evidence that police collected at the crime scene, where Katharine Brow was found. Blood of the killer. At first, she came away empty-handed. The message is, again and again, that evidence is destroyed by now. Betty Ann doesn’t want to believe that. It’s the only chance her brother has to get released!

Finally, the wanted material appears on the surface. After official test research, Betty Anne and Kenneth feel elated. They have proven the blood isn’t Kenneth’s. Now Kenneth will get ‘out’ soon and come home. Not so fast, the prosecutor thinks. There still is enough evidence left to uphold the conviction. Kenneth will stay in jail. Betty Anne is beside herself and Kenneth doesn’t believe in getting out ever again anymore.

Then, Betty Anne remembers the witnesses at the trial. Maybe she can prove they lied, because the blood is provable not Kenneth’s. She visits two of them, who testified against him in court. His ex-wife, the mother of his daughter, and his ex-girlfriend. Betty Anne succeeds in letting the ex-wife sign a written statement. With that, Kenneth’s set free.

The last scene of the movie, Kenneth and Betty Anne are sitting on a picnic table outside. End well, all well.

It didn’t entirely end well in life.



Factual story
Victim Katharina Brow, aka Kay, was murdered on May 21, 1980. The real perpetrator left hairs and blood at the crime scene, but no fingerprints. With the available techniques in the ’80s, Kenneth got convicted in 1983. On October 10, 1992, he wrote a last will and testament, where he names his sister and his daughter Mandy Marsh.

In ’99, Betty Anne found the blood evidence in a courtroom basement. With newer techniques, it could be re-tested. The results came back in 2001 and it wasn’t Kenneth’s. In March of that year, he indeed gets released from prison, after he spend eighteen years behind bars. Betty Anne didn’t set out to continue her work as a lawyer. The sole purpose had been to free her brother. She returned to Aidan’s, a pub, where she has subsequently worked as a waitress, bartender and then general manager for over two decades. She did help her boss with a legal matter, though. At one point, he had trouble renewing his liquor license. She stepped in and won.

Kenneth Waters didn’t enjoy his freedom for very long. On 6 september 2001, he took a short route to a restaurant in Rhode Island and he fell off a high wall. Consequence: Fracture of the base of his skull. He died on September 19, 2001.
A granted claim for wrongful conviction for 3.4 million dollars went to Kenneth’s estate.

Katharina Brow’s children, Melrose and Charlie, were angry they didn’t get consulted or even contacted before the movie came out. They considered that shameless and a lack of compassion. Melrose’s husband and son have seen the movie in private. The family’s lawyer, Gloria Allred, has spoken out for and with Melrose and Charlie during a press conference. They expressed the family feels Hillary Swank, co-producer of the movie, and Tony Goldwyn, both should have met them before the movie came out. After all, the movie evolved around their murdered mother.

Betty Anne Waters received The Frank Lee Smith Innocence award on April 5, 2013. That award is named after Florida’s first DNA exoneree. Unfortunately, that man died on death row eleven months before the State agreed to testing in his case, in 2000.

Until this day, it’s unknown who’s the real killer of Katharina Brow. A few cops still feel convinced Kenneth Water at least was an accomplice. Kenneth wasn’t exactly a choir boy, his sister Betty Anne admits. However, this crime wasn’t in his name. He shouldn’t have gotten convicted for this horrible murder.

Sources and note
– Related Article: Celebrating Ten years Of Freeing The Innocent, from The Innocence Project of Florida Blog

The Conviction poster I found on Wikipedia
The newspaper picture of Kenny is from the Innocent Project Organisation website
Betty Ann’s picture is from New England Innocence
The picture of Melrose, Charlie and their lawyer is from the pictures album on
Blog from Melrose – you will find a more clear picture of her (younger) mother there

Note: The original images belong to their rightful owners. I only made two new images with them.
This article is originally written in Dutch by Mirjam Penning, in 2011

It’s translated, edited and updated for re-use on this website

2 comments on “Conviction
  1. Sherri says:

    Very interesting, I’m surprised I haven’t seen this film considering what a true crime nut I am!! I’m going to look out for it though but what a sad ending for Kenny in real life, wow. Talk about ironic. Looks like, as with so many crimes like this, the full truth will never be known. Thanks again for a great piece Mirjam.

  2. Sherri, you should definitely see this one. I loved the love and determination of the sister for her brother, and then in the end picking the fruits of all her hard work. The real Betty Anne is a remarkable woman.
    It’s sad they never found the real killer. Someone got away with the murder of a mother.
    I feel sympathy for the involved children. They clearly and logically are still so hurt by this all.

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